Bring a new Act on bails, Supreme Court tells Centre

A view of Supreme Court of Inida, in New Delhi. File.

A view of Supreme Court of Inida, in New Delhi. File. | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

Asking the Centre to bring a new Act exclusively to simplify and streamline bails, the Supreme Court on Monday observed that investigating agencies are showing a mindset which leans more towards the draconian power of arrest rather than the protection of individual liberty.

A Bench of Justices S.K. Kaul and M.M. Sundresh said jails were overflowing in India while conviction rates remained an abysmal low.

“Jails in India are flooded with undertrial prisoners. The statistics placed before us would indicate that more than two-thirds of the inmates of the prisons constitute undertrial prisoners. Of this category of prisoners, majority may not even be required to be arrested...” Justice Sundresh, who authored the judgment, observed.

Many of these undertrial prisoners are the illiterate, poor and even women. Their social circumstances compel them to “inherit a culture of offence”. Added to this is the fact that investigating agencies fail to use the power of arrest sparingly.

“In a democracy, there can never be an impression that it is a police state. Both are conceptually opposite to each other,” the apex court noted.

Simple procedure

In a series of directions, the court asked the Centre to consider bringing a separate and comprehensive law to deal with bails, especially to make it a simple procedure.

“The Government of India may consider the introduction of a separate enactment in the nature of a Bail Act so as to streamline the grant of bails,” the Bench said in the judgment.

The court referred to the Bail Act of the United Kingdom which had come into existence as an antidote to the humanitarian of clogged prisons. The court also asked the government to have a relook at the Code of Criminal Procedure.

“We hope and trust that the Government of India would look into the suggestion made in right earnest,” the court concluded.

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Printable version | Sep 7, 2022 6:42:11 pm |