Bail Provisions in Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita 

11 May 2024  Read 2770 Views

When we hear about someone getting arrested, one of the first questions that often crosses our minds is, "Will they get bail?" This question becomes even more important when we consider the recent changes in the new procedural code, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita 2023 (BNSS). 

BNSS 2023 has not only made major tweaks to bail provisions compared to the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) but has also introduced new definitions such as bail, bail bond, and bond. Plus, it has changed how long someone can be kept in jail before their trial and has adjusted the rules for anticipatory bail.

In this blog, we will understand bail provisions under the BNSS and examine how these bail provisions differ from Cr.P.C. Let’s move ahead!

What is Bail?

The word "bail" comes from the old French word "Baillier," which means to deliver or hand over. Black's Law Dictionary describes it as a security like money or bond, often required by a court to release a prisoner who must appear later.

You must read the article about Bail and Arrest

'Jamin' in Court – What's That?

You might not have heard of 'Jamin' before. It is a 'bail bond' or 'surety bond.' When someone gets bail, this bond guarantees they'll attend all court dates. It's a promise between the accused, the court, and a surety (someone vouching for the accused). If the accused doesn't follow the bail rules, this bond (which is a refundable amount) can be taken away.

Definition of Bail under Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita

The Criminal Procedure Code 1973 doesn't define the terms bail, bail bond, and bond, but the BNSS has introduced these terms. According to the definition clause under Section 2 of BNSS:

Clause (b) defines "bail" as “bail" means release of a person accused of or suspected of commission of an offence from the custody of law upon certain conditions imposed by an officer or Court on execution by such person of a bond or a bail bond.

Clause (d) defines "bail bond" as, "bail bond" means an undertaking for release with surety. 

Clause (e) defines "bond" as "bond", which means a personal bond or an undertaking for release without surety. 

Kinds of Bail

Kinds of Bail

You should read more about Anticipatory Bail under CrPC and its Laws.

Bail to Undertrial Prisoners 

Old Cr.P.C. - Section 436A of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.), added through the 2005 Amendment, allows an under-trial prisoner to get bail if they have been in jail for half of the maximum punishment for their crime (except for crimes punishable by death). This provision was added to recognise the right to a fair and speedy trial for the accused undergoing detention as an undertrial prisoner. 

New Cr.P.C. - Section 479 of BNSS, which is like Section 436A of the Cr.P.C., has made important changes to how bail is given to undertrial prisoners, such as:

  1. Reducing detention time for First-Time Offenders: Previously, the law did not allow early release for first-time offenders who hadn't been convicted before, even if they had spent a significant amount of time in jail awaiting trial. However, the new law allows early release for such first-time offenders if they have served up to one-third of the sentence for the offence as an undertrial prisoner.

Proviso 1 of Section 479 of BNSS says that "Provided that where such person is a first-time offender (who has never been convicted of any offence in the past), he shall be released on bond by the Court if he has undergone detention for the period extending up to one-third of the maximum period of imprisonment specified for such offence under that law."

  1. Bail can't be granted if multiple cases are pending: Previously, the law did not have a rule that stopped an under-trial prisoner from getting bail if they were facing investigation, inquiry, or trial in multiple cases. But now, the new law has become stricter by not allowing bail if someone has multiple cases pending against them.

Sub-clause 2 of Section 479 of BNSS says, "Notwithstanding anything in sub-section (1), and subject to the third proviso thereof, where an investigation, inquiry or trial in more than one offence or in multiple cases are pending against a person, he shall not be released on bail by the Court."

  1. Obligation of Jail Superintendent: The new law requires the Jail Superintendent to submit a written application to the court for releasing under-trial prisoners on bail after serving either one-third or one-half of the sentence, depending on the case.

Sub-clause 3 of Section 479 of BNSS says, "The Superintendent of jail, where the accused person is detained, on completion of one-half or one-third of the period mentioned in sub-section (1), as the case may be, shall forthwith make an application in writing to the Court to proceed under sub-section (1) for the release of such person on bail."

Anticipatory Bail under Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita

When someone expects to be arrested for a crime, they can apply for anticipatory bail before court to avoid detention.

In the BNSS, there's little change in anticipatory bail compared to the Cr.P.C., except for a specific exclusion. The law now prohibits anticipatory bail for those accused of gang rape involving women under 18 years old, expanding on the Cr.P.C. provision that disallows anticipatory bail for those accused of gang rape involving women under 16 years old (Section 376DA) or 12 years old (Section 376DB) under Section 438(4) of the Cr.P.C.

This change broadens the scope by denying anticipatory bail to those accused of gang rape on women under 18, whereas the Cr.P.C. sets this limit at 16 years.

As sub-section 4 of Section 482 of BNSS says, "Nothing in this section shall apply to any case involving the arrest of any person on accusation of having committed an offence under section 65 and sub-section (2) of section 70 of the Bharatiya Nyaya Sanhita, 2023."

Also, sub-section (2) of section 70 of BNSS reads, "Where a woman under eighteen years of age is raped by one or more persons constituting a group or acting in furtherance of a common intention, each of those persons shall be deemed to have committed the offence of rape and shall be punished with imprisonment for life, which shall mean imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life, and with fine, or with death."

Extended Police Custody Beyond Initial 15 Days, Not a Reason to Refuse Bail 

Old Cr.P.C.- During hearings for the accused's regular bail application, the prosecution often argues against bail by stating that the accused's custody is needed to help investigative agencies identify witnesses.

You must go through this article- Rights in Police Custody.

Proviso 3 to Section 437 of Cr.P.C. talks about the release of the accused on regular bail by stating that "Provided also that the mere fact that an accused person may be required for being identified by witnesses during investigation shall not be sufficient ground for refusing to grant bail if he is otherwise entitled to be released on bail and gives an undertaking that he shall comply with such directions as may be given by the Court."

New Cr.P.C.- The new law slightly changed the existing rule by stating that if the court sees the accused needs to be in custody for more than fifteen days to identify witnesses during the investigation, they can still get regular bail.

Proviso 3 of Section 482 of BNSS talks about When bail may be taken in case of non-bailable offence as "Provided also that the mere fact that an accused person may be required for being identified by witnesses during investigation shall not be sufficient ground for refusing to grant bail if he is otherwise entitled to be released on bail and gives an undertaking that he shall comply with such directions as may be given by the Court."

Conclusion

Overall, Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita brings significant changes to bail provisions compared to the Criminal Procedure Code. Key changes include expanded eligibility for bail, especially for first-time offenders, and stricter conditions for those facing multiple charges. Anticipatory bail under the BNSS mirrors the Cr.P.C. but excludes gang rape cases involving minors.

It introduces new definitions and procedures for bail, ensuring fair treatment for undertrial prisoners while upholding responsibility.

About the Author: Anirudh Nikhare | 59 Post(s)

Anirudh did his Bachelor's in Law and has practical experience in IPR, Contracts, and Corporate. He is your go-to legal content writer turning head-scratching legal topics into easy-to-understand gems of wisdom. Through his blog, he aims to empower readers with knowledge, making legal concepts digestible and applicable to everyday life.

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