On 31st August 2018, the State Assembly of Uttar Pradesh passed the ‘The Code of Criminal Procedure (Uttar Pradesh Amendment) Bill, 2018, which called for the revival of Section 438 of CrPC in Uttar Pradesh. It was approved by President Ram Nath Kovid on 1 June 2019, and implemented on June 6, thus reintroducing anticipatory bail in Uttar Pradesh.
Anticipatory bail refers to seeking bail in the anticipation of being accused. According to this provision, if a person has legitimate reason to believe that he would be accused of committing a non bailable offence and be arrested for the same, he may approach the court to seek bail solely on this basis, even before an FIR has been filed. Anticipatory bail can be sought at the Sessions court or the High Court.
The relief was introduced to counter the proliferation in the number of false accusations. Thus even if there’s a false complaint, a person arrested can immediately be released on bail, while the investigation continues to ascertain the validity of the case. This ensures that people are not arrested in an unwarranted manner, on the basis of a malicious accusation.
However, this provision was done away with in 1976, during the Emergency period.. There was a lot of unrest and opposition to the Emergency, and the removal of anticipatory bail allowed for easier arrests of those causing the unrest.
Now, after a period of 43 years, the relief of anticipatory bail has once again been made available to the people. This was the result of various writ petitions that were filed, demanding the restoration of the provision, as well as the recommendations of various govt constituted committees, such as that of the State Law Commission in 2009. It was pointed out that non availability of anticipatory bail directly contravened Article 21, which protects the people’s right to life and personal liberty. The right to equality was also violated, as this relief was available in all states except Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand.