Courts seem to have forgotten the basic principle of grant or refusal of bail, former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan B. Lokur has said, and termed as “most unfortunate” the unwillingness of the judiciary to see through the designs of probe agencies such as filing incomplete charge sheets and not providing documents just to keep accused in jail.
Observing that the judiciary needs to wake up to the realities of life, the former apex court judge said in an interview with PTI though it is very difficult to allege political vendetta in every corruption case involving politicians, suspicions arise when investigation is dropped if the suspect changes loyalties.
In response to a query on denial of bail to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Manish Sisodia, Justice Lokur said, “Generally speaking, the courts seem to have forgotten the basic principles of grant or refusal of bail. Nowadays, if a person is arrested, you can be rest assured that he will be in prison for a few months at least.
“The police first arrest the person, then start a serious investigation. An incomplete charge sheet is filed followed by a supplementary charge sheet and documents are not furnished. This is most unfortunate and what is troubling is that some courts are not willing to see through this.” The judiciary needs to wake up to the realities of life as law books do not tell the whole story, justice Lokur said in response to a question as to how the judiciary should approach the issue of alleged misuse of investigative agencies by the government of the day both at the Centre and in States.
The former judge said the basic principles have been laid down by the apex court in several judgments for the exercise of discretionary power in bail matters.
“The problem is that some courts do not apply these basic principles, although they know them. The question is, why?" he said.
The Supreme Court on October 30 denied bail to former Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia in the corruption and money-laundering cases related to the alleged Delhi excise policy scam. He was arrested by the CBI on February 26.
Mincing no words about the trend of rising number of corruption cases lodged by government agencies against political adversaries in recent years, Justice Lokur said though such things are not new, the problem is the trajectory of probe against suspects if they change political loyalties.
“Corruption cases against some politicians are not new. There are other criminal cases against some politicians. It is difficult to allege political vendetta in all cases, but there may be some truth in some cases. The troubling aspect of all this is that after investigations start and the suspect changes loyalties, the investigation is dropped. That gives rise to grave suspicion of political vendetta,” he told PTI in an interview via e-mail.
The former apex court judge hailed the present collegium system of appointment of judges in the higher judiciary and said it is the best available method.
“I have repeatedly been saying that the collegium system is the best available method of appointment of judges, but it needs some changes. This needs discussion. One important change is that the opacity of the government has to go. The government is more opaque than the collegiums,” Justice Lokur said.
Justice Lokur was elevated to the Supreme Court as a judge on June 4, 2012 and demitted office on December 30, 2018.
Justice Lokur, as the apex court judge, dealt with cases on different aspects of law — constitutional law, juvenile justice and Alternate Dispute Redressal mechanism, besides playing an active role in the pursuit of judicial reforms — computerisation of courts, judicial education, legal aid and legal services.
He was a part of the Bench which adjudicated a writ petition on privacy and identity of victims of sexual harassment where the court took the view that privacy and reputation of victims should be protected and issued special directives to that end.