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A court in Hubli, Karnataka has granted default bail to the three Kashmiri students who were arrested on charges of sedition for allegedly posting pro-Pakistan slogans on social media earlier this year.
Judicial Magistrate First Class Vishwanath V Mugathi granted the three students bail despite the prosecution's argument that chargesheet was yet to be filed in the case.
While granting default bail, the judge imposed the following conditions on the accused:
All accused to execute Personal Bond for Rs.1,00,000/- each and furnish two sureties for like sum.
The accused persons shall not intimidate, attempt to influence the witnesses nor shall they tamper with the evidence in any manner.
The accused persons shall not commit similar offenses.
The accused shall submit their address proof documents and cell numbers.
The accused shall appear before the court regularly without fail.
The accused shall not travel beyond the limits of Hubli City without permission of the court.
Pressing for bail, counsel for the accused argued that since the Investigating Officer had failed to submit the final report before 90 days from the day of arrest (from February 17 till May 16), the accused were entitled to default bail as per Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
The Additional Public Prosecutor countered the bail application by contending that the alleged offences are non-bailable and that the investigation was still under progress.
It was also alleged that the accused had committed the offence of sedition by raising pro-Pakistan slogans on social media, "despite getting student scholarship" from the Indian government.
The prosecution further submitted that if the accused are released on bail, they may flee from the jurisdiction of the court and may indulge in similar types of offences. The accused may even destroy evidence and try to tamper the prosecution witnesses, it was argued.
This apart, it was contended that the Karnataka High Court issued a notification regarding extension of limitation periods till July 6, and thus the 90-day period would stand extended. Moreover, since the charge sheet in the case was yet to be filed, bail could not be granted to the accused, the prosecutor argued.
After hearing the parties, the court held that as per decisions of High Court and Apex Court,
"...the indefeasible right accrued to the accused U/Sec.167(2) of Cr.P.C will start soon after completing the statutory period of 90 days till filing charge sheet by the I.O. In that intermediate time, the accused is having indefeasible right of availing default/statutory bail."
The court noted that the filing of an incomplete chargesheet on June 4 would not defeat the statutory right of the accused.
Further, the Court opined that the order passed by the High Court and the Supreme Court on extension of limitation periods was applicable only to civil proceedings.
The Court went on to note,
II JMFC, Hubli Court
Thus, the court held that the accused were entitled to statutory bail.
[Read the order here]