SC Emphasizes on Deciding Bail Matters Judiciously and in Humane Manner

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February 08, 2018

Case name: Dataram Singh v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Anr.

Date of Judgment: February 06, 2018

In the instant case, the Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court took the opportunity to enumerate the principle underlying grant of bail and humane attitude towards an accused person. The Supreme Court in the case remarked that:

“A humane attitude is required to be adopted by a judge, while dealing with an application for remanding a suspect or an accused person to police custody or judicial custody. There are several reasons for this including maintaining the dignity of an accused person, howsoever poor that person might be, the requirements of Article 21 of the Constitution and the fact that there is enormous overcrowding in prisons, leading to social and other problems.”

Other key observations made by the Supreme Court with reference to grant of bail and presumption of innocence of an accused are as under:

  • That fundamental postulate of criminal jurisprudence is the presumption of innocence, meaning thereby that a person is believed to be innocent until found guilty.
  • That the grant of bail is the general rule and putting a person in jail or in a prison or correction home is an exception. The Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case observed that some of these basic principles appear to have been lost sight of with the result that more and more persons were being incarcerated and for longer periods.
  • That there is a necessity to introspect whether denying bail to an accused person is the right thing to do on the facts and in the circumstances of a case.
  • That while deciding refusal or grant of bail it has to be considered whether the accused was arrested during investigations when that person perhaps has the best opportunity to tamper with the evidence or influence witnesses.
  • That if the investigating officer does not find it necessary to arrest an accused person during investigations, a strong case should be made out for placing that person in judicial custody after a charge sheet is filed.
  • The Court has to also determine whether the accused was participating in the investigations to the satisfaction of the investigating officer and was not absconding or not appearing when required by the investigating officer.
  • That if an accused is not hiding from the investigating officer or is hiding due to some genuine and expressed fear of being victimized, it would be a factor that a judge would need to consider in an appropriate case.
  • It is also necessary for the judge to consider whether the accused is a first-time offender or has been accused of other offences and if so, the nature of such offences and his or her general conduct.
  • The provision for bail is therefore age-old and the liberal interpretation to the provision for bail is almost a century old, going back to colonial days. However, we should not be understood to mean that bail should be granted in every case. The grant or refusal of bail is entirely within the discretion of the judge hearing the matter and though that discretion is unfettered, it must be exercised judiciously and in a humane manner and compassionately. Also, conditions for the grant of bail ought not to be so strict as to be incapable of compliance, thereby making the grant of bail illusory.

The entire case can be accessed here.