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Accused charged with attempt to rape, entitled to bail if final report not filed within stipulated time: Kerala High Court

When there is a specific provision in the Indian Penal Code that says that in calculating fractions of terms of punishment, imprisonment for life shall be reckoned as equivalent to imprisonment for twenty years we cannot ignore that provision and interpret that imprisonment for life means imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life even while computing the detention period under Section 167(2) Cr.P.C.The Hon’ble High Court of Kerala in Vinesh V. State of Kerala [ Bail Appeal no. 4876 of 2020, Crime No.584/2020 of Valiyamala Police Station, Thiruvananthapuram], held by The Hon’ble Mr Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan that if the final report is not filed within the stipulated time of 60 days then the accused charged u/s 511 r/w 376 of IPC (Attempt to Rape) is entitled to Statutory Bail.

As per s. 167(2) of Crpc a magistrate cannot authorize the detention of the accused beyond a period of 60 days if the investigation relates to an offence in which the maximum imprisonment is 10 years hence, the legal issue before the Hon’ble Court was “whether the maximum punishment that can be imposed u/s 511 r/w S. 376 and S. 511 of 306 of IPC is 10 years or not”

 The Hon’ble court took a note of S. 57 of IPC and further observed that s. 511 of IPC says that whoever attempts to commit an offence punishable by this code with imprisonment for life or imprisonment or to cause such an offence to be committed and in such attempt does any act towards the commission of the offence, shall, where no express provision is made by this code for the punishment of such attempt, be punished with imprisonment of any description provided for the offence, for a term which may extend to one-half of the imprisonment for life or, as the case may be, one-half of the longest term of imprisonment provided for that offence, or with such fine as in providing for the offence, or both.

While referring to Rakesh Kumar Paul V. State of Assam, [2017(4) KHC 470] the Hon’ble Court observed “It is a settled position that imprisonment for life means imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life. There is no dispute on that. But when there is a specific provision in the Indian Penal Code that says that in calculating fractions of terms of punishment, imprisonment for life shall be reckoned as equivalent to imprisonment for twenty years we cannot ignore that provision and interpret that imprisonment for life means imprisonment for the remainder of that person’s natural life even while computing the detention period under Section 167(2) Crpc. As observed by the Apex Court the interpretation of the provisions of 167(2) Crpc should be liberal. On a reading of Section 167(2) (a) (ii) Crpc along with 511 of 376 IPC coupled with Section 57 of the IPC, it is clear that an accused who is charged for the offence under Section 511 of 376 IPC can be imprisonment only for a period of ten years. If that is the case, the petitioner is entitled to statutory bail in this case.”

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