Remand period under Section 167 of CrPC starts from the date magistrate authorises remand, holds Supreme Court

The moment the stipulated 60 or 90 day remand period, as the case may be, expires, an indefeasible right to default bail accrues to the accused, reaffirmed the court.


IN a significant decision furthering the cause of personal liberty, the Supreme Court on Monday held that the remand period under Section 167 (procedure when investigation cannot be completed in twenty-four hours) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) ought to be computed from the date when a magistrate authorises remand.

It further declared that the very moment the stipulated 60 or 90 day remand period, as the case may be, expires, an indefeasible right to default bail accrues to the accused.

The leaning towards the accused’s right to personal liberty by reducing the 60 day period to something more than 59 days, and a few hours, is based on the constitutional protection afforded to an accused under Article 22(2) and Article 21. In this way, the code’s application in dealing with an accused would be consistent with the inviolable right of personal liberty and dignity,” the court held.

A three-judge bench comprising Justices K.M. Joseph, Hrishikesh Roy and B.V. Nagarathna was ruling on a petition filed by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED) against the Bombay High Court’s decision granting default bail to Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd promoters Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan, in the Yes Bank money laundering case.

The Wadhawans were arrested on May 14, 2020, under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 (PMLA) and were remanded on the same date. On July 17, 2020, through an email, the ED claimed to have filed a complaint (akin to a chargesheet) and subsequently on July 7, 2020, a physical copy thereof was tendered before the court. The Wadhawans’ applications for enlargement of bail were moved on July 13, 2020 at 8:53 a.m. through email and a physical filing token was issued by 11 a.m.

The accused thus argued that the period of 60 days from the date of remand, that is, May 14, 2020, expired on July 12, 2020, and on the next day, the default bail applications were presented before the court. The special judge under PMLA denied the default bail, taking the view that the 60-day period would start from May 15, 2020, thereby excluding the date of remand (that is, May 14, 2020).

However, the Bombay High Court held that excluding the date of remand while computing the 60-day period was erroneous and decided that the filing of the chargesheet by the ED on July 17, 2020, being the 61st day of detention in custody, would entitle the accused to default bail.

The Supreme Court was thus called upon to answer whether the period of remand under the first proviso to Section 167(2) of the CrPC is inclusive of the day on which the magistrate orders remand.

Additional Solicitor General of India Suryaprakash V. Raju, for the ED, argued that even if the period of 60 days as stipulated under the first proviso to Section 167(2) expired on July 12, 2020, the same being a Sunday, the provisions of Section 10 (computation of time) of the General Clauses Act, 1897 would come into play and as such the 60 day period, which expired on Sunday, would stand extended to the next day of Monday, that is, July 13, 2020.

The bench rejected the argument of the ED, relying upon the decision of the Supreme Court in Chaganti Satyanarayan versus State of Andhra Pradesh (1986) in which it was held that the proviso (a), in reference to the total period of detention, can be interpreted on the plain language of the proviso itself, being a complete code on its own, making it wholly unnecessary to invoke the provisions of the General Clauses Act or the Limitation Act, 1963.

It also noted that the decision in Chaganti Satyanarayan was later considered by the Supreme Court in Gautam Navlakha versus National Investigation Agency (2021), wherein, for computing the prescribed 60/90 day remand period, the date of remand was included.

The ED had relied upon State of MP versus Rustam (1995) in which the  Supreme Court, while calculating the remand period, considered the General Clauses Act.

Clarifying the position of law, the three-judge bench headed by Justice Joseph has now observed that Rustam failed to appreciate the ratio in Chaganti Satyanarayan, in which it was categorically observed that to compute the period under Section 167(2) of the CrPC, the provisions of General Clauses Act will have no application. The bench declared the decision in Rustam per incuriam. 

The 60/90 day limit is a statutory requirement which allows the State agencies to investigate serious offences beyond the 15-day police custody. In case the State fails to file chargesheet or supplementary request for remand within the stipulated 60/90 day period, we need to strike a balance between the rights of the individual and the restriction on those rights and prevent prolonged incarceration without legal support. The very instance, the statutory remand period ends, an indefeasible right to default bail accrues to the accused and the same needs to be guarded, the judgment, authored by Justice Roy, held.

Click here to view the Supreme Court’s full judgment.