Criminal justice system process itself has become punishment, says SC judge

S. Abdul Nazeer, Supreme Court judge, being felicitated by Rajya Sabha member D. Veerendra Heggade in Mangaluru on Saturday.

S. Abdul Nazeer, Supreme Court judge, being felicitated by Rajya Sabha member D. Veerendra Heggade in Mangaluru on Saturday. | Photo Credit: H.S. MANJUNATH

Supreme Court judge S. Abdul Nazeer on Saturday said the process of criminal justice itself has become punishment [with constant denial of bail to the accused], which no criminal jurisprudence has prescribed.

Delivering the silver jubilee endowment lecture at SDM Law College here, Justice Nazeer said despite the Supreme Court reminding the lower judiciary often, right from the Gurbaksh Singh vs. the State of Punjab, lower courts were keen on denying bail or imposing onerous conditions to grant bail.

Stating that the criminal justice system attacks undertrial prisoners, Justice Nazeer noted that the trial itself has become punishment in the current scenario.

Quoting Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, who recently said the process of criminal justice system has itself become punishment, starting from harsh and indiscriminate arrest to getting bail, he said urgent legislative reforms were the need of the hour. The CJI had also noted that 80% of the over 6 lakh inmates languishing in Indian jails were undertrial prisoners.

He urged Dharmasthala pattadhikari D. Veerendra Heggade, who was recently nominated to the Rajya Sabha, to take up the issue in Parliament about the reforms in criminal justice system, particularly the issue of bail. The fundamental guiding principle should be “bail and not jail.”

He wondered should the undertrial prisoner remain in jail until the trial concludes. Justice Nazeer doubted it was not the correct proposition of law.

In the process of denying bail, the marginalised sections of society bears the brunt. Even if bail was granted, courts impose conditions that could be fulfilled with great difficulty.

According to a survey, about 14% undertrial prisoners remain in jails being unable to fulfill bail conditions, including providing surety, executing bond etc. Another 40% take at least a month to fulfill the bail conditions, thus remaining in the jail for that period.

In his address, Mr. Heggade said the college was proud to host Justice Nazeer, its proud alumnus. Right from the freedom struggle to the present time administration, advocates have played crucial a role in politics. Law education no more remains ‘pastime,’ but the profession has become lucrative as well as influential, he said.

Principal Tharanatha, event coordinator Chandralekha, and others were present.

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Printable version | Aug 14, 2022 12:29:53 am |