DC Edit | Bail, not jail: Stick to mantra

The Supreme Court judgment that courts should not withhold the right of an accused for bail irrespective of the nature of crime and that refusal of grant of bail is an unjust punishment leading to prisonisation should come as a big relief to lakhs of undertrial prisoners languishing in jails in this country. Speedy trial is the right of every person under Article 21 of the Constitution, and the rights under the Article apply irrespective of the nature of the crime, the court has held.

The decision was not just a theory that can be interpreted conveniently by the concerned; it was a virtual how-to-do order when the apex court said the prosecution should not object to bail on the plea that the charge is serious if a speedy trial is not possible.

Great jurists, including the legendary Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, have posited that bail is the rule and jail is an exemption but Indian courts, especially the trial courts, refuse bail applications under one pretext or the other. The Chief Justice of India is on record recently criticising this disinclination of the courts to grant bail. But it is not just the trial courts; it was not too long ago that the Supreme Court had suspended the bail granted by a high court to wheel-chair bound academic Prof. G.N. Saibaba saying the charges against him were serious.

Weaponisation of the law is a game the government of the day in India is fond of playing against its political opponents. This country has been witnessing the curious phenomenon of political leaders being arrested and thrown in jails under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, even while the investigation into the scheduled crime would have reached nowhere. This is only because getting bail under the draconian law is next to impossible.

It will be a great service to democracy in India if the courts rose to recognise the constitutional mandates and protected the rights of its people against the onslaught by the state machinery.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
Next Story