Mar 15,2023 | 12 min read

Supreme Court's Guidelines On Grant Of Bail After Charge Sheet Is Filed

The Supreme Court in the case of Satender Kumar Antil v. Central Bureau of Investigation, Petition for Special Leave to Appeal (Crl.) No. 5191/2021, dated October 7, 2021, issued guidelines for granting bail following the filing of a charge sheet. Furthermore, the Court clarified that trial courts have the authority to provide interim relief to accused individuals based on their conduct during the investigation. The suggestions made by Additional Solicitor General S V Raju and senior advocate Sidharth Luthra on the issue were accepted by the bench consisting of Justices S K Kaul and M M Sundresh.


Category of Offences:

The Court divided offences into 4 categories:

Category A: Offences punishable with imprisonment of 7 years or less not falling in category B & D. 

Category B: Offences punishable with death, imprisonment for life, or imprisonment for more than 7 years. 

Category C: Offences punishable under Special Acts containing stringent provisions for bail like NDPS [Section 37], PMLA [Section 45], UAPA [Section 43D (5)], Companies Act [Section 212 (6)] etc.

Category D: Economic offences not covered by Special Acts.


The Supreme Court has laid down the following guidelines and procedures:

Category A Offences:

After filing of chargesheet or taking the cognizance of complaint-

  1. The Court will issue ordinary summons at the first instance, including permitting appearance through Lawyer.

  2. If such an accused does not appear despite service of summons, then Bailable Warrant for physical appearance may be issued.

  3. Non Bailable Warrant may be issued on failure to failure to appear despite issuance of Bailable Warrant.

  4. Non Bailable Warrant may be cancelled or converted into a Bailable Warrant/Summons without insisting physical appearance of accused, if such an application is moved on behalf of the accused before execution of the Non Bailable Warrant on an undertaking of the accused to appear physically on the next date/s of hearing.

  5. Bail applications of such accused on appearance may be decided without the accused being taken in physical custody or by granting interim bail till the bail application is decided.


Category B/D Offences:

On appearance of the accused in Court pursuant to process issued bail application to be decided on merits.


Category C Offences:

Same as Category B & D with the additional condition of compliance of the provisions of Bail under NDPS [Section 37], PMLA [Section 45], UAPA [Section 43D (5)], Companies Act, [Section 212 (6)], etc.


The following conditions must be met in order for these guidelines to be applicable:

  • Accused is not arrested during the investigation.

  • Accused has cooperated throughout the investigation including appearing before the Investigating Officer whenever called.


The Court further directed that a copy of this order be distributed to the Registrars of the various High Courts and then further distributed to the trial Courts so that unnecessary bail matters do not come before the Supreme Court.



The Satender Kumar Antil vs Central Bureau of Investigation case reaffirms longstanding bail principles, but its significance lies in the current context in which it was delivered. The Court has emphasized the importance of investigative agencies and Magistrates adhering to procedural compliance and protecting the rights of accused individuals during criminal investigations, inquiries, and trials when granting bail. Notably, the judgment recognizes that a majority of inmates in prisons are undertrials who may not even require arrest despite being accused of a cognizable offense punishable with a maximum of seven years. The judgment also upholds the principle that bail is the norm, and jail should be the exception, and that arrest is a severe measure that curtails an individual's liberty. As a result, the Supreme Court has directed courts to adjudicate on bail applications within a specified time frame.


The ruling essentially safeguards constitutional rights and reinforces the presumption of innocence for accused individuals, firmly establishing these vital principles within criminal jurisprudence. While the Supreme Court has emphasized that it is the responsibility of investigative agencies to adhere to procedural safeguards, the real challenge lies in the practical implementation of these guidelines by Magistrates and investigative agencies, ensuring that they are followed in both letter and spirit. This requires striking a balance between the rights of the accused and the interests of criminal investigations.




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Bharat Misra

My area of practice is mainly Criminal, Civil, Constitutional, Family and Law of Contracts. I appear in all courts of Delhi NCR.