Right To Bail In India
When you are arrested, you are taken into custody. This means that you are not free to leave the scene. Without being arrested, you can be detained, however, or held for questioning for a short time if a police officer or other person believes you may be involved in a crime. For example, an officer may detain you if you are carrying a large box near a burglary site. You can also be detained by storekeepers if they suspect you have stolen something. Whether you are arrested or detained, you do not have to answer any questions except to give your name and address and show some identification if requested. The object of arrest and detention of the accessed person is primarily to secure his appearance at the trial and to ensure that in case he is found guilty he is available to receive the sentence. If his presence at the trial could be reasonable ensured otherwise than by his arrest and detention, it would be unjust and unfair to deprive the accused of his liberty during the pendency of the criminal proceedings against him. The provisions regarding the issue of summons or those relating to the arrest of the accessed person under a warrant or without a warrant or those relating to the release of the accessed at his trial but without unreasonable and unjustifiably interfering with his liberty. Thus this article is related with the provisions related with the release of a person on a bail.
In words of Krishna Iyer J. .. the subject of bail:-
” ….. belongs to the blurred area of criminal justice system and largely hinges on the hunch of the bench, otherwise called judicial discretion. The Code is cryptic on this topic and the Court prefers to be tacit, be the order custodial or not. And yet, the issue is one of liberty, justice, public safety and burden of public treasury all of which insist that a developed jurisprudence of bail is integral to a socially sensitised judicial process.”
Thus release on bail is crucial to the accused as the consequences of pre-trial detention are given. If release on bail is denied to the accessed it would mean that though he is presumed to be innocent till the guilt is proved beyond the reasonable doubt he would be subjected to the psychological and physical deprivation of jail life. The jail accessed loses his job and is prevented from contributing effectively to the preparation of his defense.
Therefore where there are no risks involved in the release of the arrested person it would be cruel and unjust, to deny him bail. The law bails ” has to dovetail two conflicting demands namely, on one hand, the requirements of the society for being shielded from the hazards of being exposed to the misadventures of a person alleged to have committed a crime; and on the other, the fundamental canon of criminal jurisprudence. The presumption of innocence of an accused till he is found guilty”.
In order to sub serve the above said objective, the Legislature in its wisdom has given precise directions for granting or granting bail.
Before actually determining the place of bail within human rights framework as conferred by the Constitution, it is important to examine the object and meaning of bail, such that an analysis of these fundamental objects and change therein may reveal a change. The object detention of an accused person is primarily to secure her/his appearance at the time of trial and is available to receive sentence, in case found guilty. If his/her presence at the trial could be reasonably ensured other than by his arrest or detention, it would be unjust and unfair to deprive the accused of his liberty during pendency of criminal proceedings.
Thus it is important to note the relevant provisions enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:-
Article 9- No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Article 10- Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
Article 11(1)- Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defense.
There are thus several reasons which have been enumerated as to why bail ought to be allowed to prevent pre-trial detention
MEANING OF BAIL
Bail, in law, means procurement of release from prison of a person awaiting trial or an appeal, by the deposit of security to ensure his submission at the required time to legal authority.
“Bail has been defined in the law lexicon as security for the appearance of the accused person on giving which he is released pending trial or investigation.”
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, what is contemplated by bail is to “procure the release of a person from legal custody, by undertaking that he/she shall appear at the time and place designated and submit him/herself to the jurisdiction and judgment of the court.”.
MEANING OF BAIL IN INDIA
According to Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (Cr.P.C. hereinafter), does not define bail, although the terms bailable offense and non-bailable offense have been defined in section 2(a) Cr.P.C. as follows: ” Bailable offense means an offense which is shown as bailable in the First Schedule or which is made bailable by any other law for the time being enforce, and non-bailable offense means any other offense”. That schedule refers to all the offenses under the Indian Penal Code and puts them into bailable and on bailable categories. The analysis of the relevant provisions of the schedule would show that the basis of this categorization rests on diverse consideration. However, it can be generally stated that all serious offenses, i.e. offenses punishable with imprisonment for three years or more have seen considered as non bailable offenses. Further, Sections 436 to 450 set out the provisions for the grant of bail and bonds in criminal cases. The amount of security that is to be paid by the accused to secure his release has not been mentioned in the Cr.P.C. Thus, it is the discretion of the court to put a monetary cap on the bond.
Indian Courts however ,have greater discretion to grant or deny bail in the case of persons under criminal arrest, e.g., it is usually refused when the accused is charged with homicide.
It must be further noted that a person accused of a bailable offenses is arrested or detained without warrant he has a right to be released on bail. But if the offense is non-bailable that does not mean that the person accused of such offense shall not be released on bail: but here in such case bail is not a matter of right, but only a privilege to be granted at the discretion of the court.
Provisions under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, makes provisions for release of accused persons on bail. Section 436 of the Code provides for release on bail in cases of bailable offenses. Section 436 provides that when person not accused of a non-bailable offense is arrested or detained he can be detained as right to claim to be released on bail. The section covers all cases of person s accused of bailable of fences cases of persons though not accused of any offense but against whom security proceedings have been initiated under Chapter VIII of the Code and other cases of arrest and detention which are not in respect of any bailable offense.
This section entitles a person other than the accused of a non-bailable offense to be released on bail, it may be recalled that S. 50(2) makes it obligatory for a police officer arresting such a person without a warrant to inform him his right to be released on bail.
Section 436 (1) of the Code signifies that release on bail is a matter of right, or in other words, the officer-in-charge of a police station or any court does not have any discretion whatsoever to deny bail in such cases. The word ” appear in this sub- clause is wide enough to include voluntary appearance of the person accused of an offense even where no summons or warrant has been issued against him. There is nothing in S. 436 to exclude voluntary appearance or to suggest that the appearance of the accused must be in the obedience of a process issued by the court. The surrender and the physical presence of the accused with the submission to the jurisdiction and order of the court is judicial custody, and the accused may be granted bail and released from such custody.
The right to be released on bail under S. 436(1) cannot be nullified indirectly by fixing too high amount of bond or bail-bond to be furnish by the person seeking bail. Section 440(1) provides the amount of every bond executed under this chapter shall be fixed with due regard to the circumstances of the case, and shall not be excessive. Further S. 440(2) empowers the High Court or the Court of Sessions may direct that the bail required by a police officer or Magistrate be reduced.
Sub-section (2) of S. 436 makes a provision to effect that a person who absconds or has broken the condition of his bail bond when released on bail is a bailable case on a previous occasion, shall not as of right to be entitled to bail when brought before the court on any subsequent date even though the offense may be bailable.
In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India  2 SCR 621
The amount of the bond should be determined having regard to these relevant factors and should not be fixed mechanically according to a schedule keyed to the nature of the charge. Otherwise, it would be difficult for the accused to secure his release even by executing a personal bond, it would be very harsh and oppressive if he is required to satisfy the court-and what is said in regard to the court must apply equally in relation to the police while granting bail-that he is solvent enough to pay the amount of the bond if he fails to appear at the trial and in consequence the bond is forfeited. The inquiry into the solvency of the accused can become a source of great harassment to him and often resulting denial of bail and deprivation of liberty and should not, therefore, be insisted upon as a condition of acceptance of the personal bond.
It also stated that there is a need to provide by an amendment of the penal law that if an accused willfully fails to appear incompliance with the promise contained in his personal bond, he shall be liable to penal action.
J. Per Bhagwati & Koshal, JJ. further observed that it is now high time that the State Government realized its responsibility to the people in the matter of administration of justice and set up more courts for the trial of cases.
In Moti Ram & Others. v. State of M.P  4 SCC 47
Urgent need for a clear and explicit provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure enabling the release, inappropriate cases, of an under trial prisoner on his bond without sureties and without any monetary obligation.
Criminal courts today, are extremely unsatisfactory and needs drastic change. In the first place it is virtually impossible to translate risk of non- appearance by the accused into precise monetary terms and even its basic premise that risk of financial loss is necessary to prevent the accused from fleeing is of doubtful validity. There are several considerations which deter an accused from running away from justice and risk of financial loss is only one of them and that too not a major one. In this case the court also pointed out the enlightened Bail Projects in the United States such as Manhattan Bail Project and D. C. Bail Project shows that even without monetary bail it has been possible to secure the presence of the accused at the trial in quite a large number of cases. The Court laid down following guidelines, that determine whether the accused has his roots in the community which would deter him from fleeing, the Court should take into account the following factors concerning the accused:
- 1. The length of his residence in the community,
2 His employment status, history and his financial condition,
3. His family ties and relationships,
4 His reputation, character and monetary condition,
5.His prior criminal record including any record or prior release on recognizance or on bail,
6. The identity of responsible members of the community who would vouch for his reliability. The nature of the offense charged and the apparent probability of conviction and the likely sentence in so far as these factors are relevant to the risk of non appearance, and
If the court is satisfied on a consideration of the relevant factors that the accused has his ties in the community and there is no substantial risk of non-appearance, the accused may, as far as possible, be released on his personal bond.
Of course, if facts are brought to the notice of the court which go to show that having regard to the condition and background of the accused his previous record and the nature and circumstances of the offense, there may be a substantial risk of his non-appearance at the trial, as for example, where the accused is a notorious bad character or confirmed criminal or the offense is serious (these examples are only by way of illustration), the court may not release the accused on his personal bond and may insist on bail with sureties. But in the majority of cases, considerations like family ties and relationship, roots in the community, employment status etc. may prevail with the court in releasing the accused on his personal bond and particularly in cases where the offense is not grave and the accused is poor or belongs to a weaker section of the community, release on personal bond could, as far as possible, be preferred. But even while releasing the accused on personal bond it is necessary to caution the court that the amount of the bond which it.
Section 436A . Maximum period for which an under trial prisoner can be detained –
The new provision Section 436Awas introduced in order to solve the problems of undertrials’ who were languishing in jails as they will now be given an opportunity to be set free instead of endlessly waiting for their trial to take place. This move has been made due to a faulty criminal justice system and provides a makeshift method of providing justice and relief to undertrial prisoners. This seems to suggest that the Legislature and the Government have accepted the existence of the faulty system and their inability to do anything about it. For this purpose section 436 A was inserted.
According to S. 436-A, a person who has undergone detention for a period extending upto half of the maximum period of imprisonment imposed for a particular offense, shall be released on her/his personal bond with or without sureties. The procedure provided is that the Court has to hear the Public Prosecutor and give its decision with reasons in writing. The Court may release the applicant, or if not satisfied may order for the continued detention of the applicant. However, no prisoner can be detained for a period longer than the maximum period of imprisonment provided. The exception to the section is that it is not applicable to offenders who have been sentenced to death.
Moving onto the (de)merits of the provisions itself, S. 436-A gives discretion to the Court to set the prisoner free or to make him/her continue imprisonment. There is no mention of any applications having to be filed under the section. The first part of the section states that any prisoner who has served more than half the term of his/her imprisonment ‘shall’ be released. However, the proviso puts a restriction on the mandatory provision by giving discretionary powers to the courts. This raises questions regarding the implementation of the provision. There is every chance that a prisoner may be sent back to jail to serve a period longer than the half term of his/her sentence. Till the Judges give their written reasons for the same, one will not know on what grounds a continuation of the term can be ordered as the section does not provide any guidelines. Will the undertrial prisoner continue to serve term till the maximum period of the
Granting of Bail with conditions
Section 437 of the Code provides for release on bail in cases of non-bailable offenses. In such cases, bail is not a matter of right. Court has sufficient discretion to deny or to grant bail. First Schedule to the Code provides the list of bailable and non-bailable offenses. Further cases often arise under S. 437, where though the court regards the case as fit for the grant of bail, it regards imposition of certain conditions as necessary in the circumstances. To meet this need sub-section (3) of S. 437 provides:
When a person accused or suspected of the commission of an offense punishable with imprisonment which may extend to seven years or more or of an offense under Chapter VI, Chapter XVI or Chapter XVII of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) or abatement of, or conspiracy or attempt to commit, any such offense, is released on bail under sub-section (1), the Court may impose any condition which the Court considers necessary: –
- (a)In order to ensure that such person shall attend in accordance with the conditions of the bond executed under this Chapter, or
(b)In order to ensure that such person shall not commit an offence similar to the offence of which he is accused or of the commission of which he is suspected, or
(c)Otherwise in the interests of Justice.
It will be noticed that: –
- 1)The power to impose conditions has been given to the court and not to any police officer
2)The power to impose conditions can only be exercised –
i)Where the offence is punishable with the imprisonment which may extend to seven years or more or
ii)Where the offence is one under Chapter VI (Offences against the State), Chapter XVI (offences against the human body), or Chapter XVII (offences against the property) of I.P.C, or
iii)Where the offence is one of the abetment of or conspiracy to or attempt to commit any such offence as mentioned above in (i) and (ii).
CANCELLATION OF BAIL
According to S. 437(5) any court which has released a person on bail under (1) or sub sec (2) of S. 437 may if considers it necessary so to do, direct that such person be arrested and committed to custody.
The power to cancel bail has been given to the court and not to a police officer. Secondly, the court which granted the bail can alone cancel it. The bail granted by a police officer cannot be cancelled by the court of a magistrate. For cancellation of bail in such a situation, the powers of the High Court or Court of Session under S. 439 will have to invoked. Rejection of bail when bails applied for is one thing; cancellation of bail already granted is quite another. It is easier to reject a bail application in a non-bailable cases than to cancel a bail granted in such case. Cancellation of bail necessary involves the review of a decision already made and can large be permitted only if , by reason of supervening circumstances it would be no longer conducive to a fair trial to allow the accused to retain his freedom during the trial. However, bail granted illegal or improperly by a wrong arbitrary exercise of judicial discretion can be cancelled even if there is absence of supervening circumstances. If there is no material to prove that the accused abused his freedom court may not cancel the bail.
In Public Prosecutor v. George Williams1951 Mad 1042
The Madras High Court pointed out five cases where a person granted bail may have the bail cancelled and be recommitted to jail:
- (a)Where the person on bail, during the period of the bail, commits the very same offence for which is being tried or has been convicted, and thereby proves his utter unfitness to be on bail;
(b)If he hampers the investigation as will be the case if he, when on bail; forcibly prevents the search of place under his control for the corpus delicti or other incriminating things;
(c)If he tampers with the evidence, as by intimidating the prosecution witness, interfering with scene of the offence in order to remove traces or proofs of crime, etc.
(d)If he runs away to a foreign country, or goes underground, or beyond the control of his sureties; and
(e)If he commits acts of violence, in revenge, against the police and the prosecution witnessed & those who have booked him or are trying to book him.
RIGHT TO BAIL AND ARTICLE 21’S RIGHT TO PERSONAL LIBERTY
The right to bail is concomitant of the accusatorial system, which favours a bail system that ordinarily enables a person to stay out of jail until a trial has found him/her guilty. In India, bail or release on personal recognizance is available as a right in bailable offences not punishable with death or life imprisonment and only to women and children in non-bailable offences punishable with death or life imprisonment. The right of police to oppose bail, the absence of legal aid for the poor and the right to speedy reduce to vanishing point the classification of offences into bailable and non-bailable and make the prolonged incarceration of the poor inevitable during the pendency of investigation by the police and trial by a court.
The fact that under trials formed 80 percent of Bihar’s prison population, their period of imprisonment ranging from a dew months to ten years; some cases wherein the period of imprisonment of the under trials exceeded the period of imprisonment prescribed for the offences they were charged with- these appalling outrages were brought before the Supreme Court in Hussainara Khatoon v. State of Bihar AIR 1979 SC 1360
Justice Bhagwati found that these unfortunate under trials languished in prisons not because they were guilty but because they were too poor to afford a bail. In Mantoo Majumdar v. State of Bihar AIR 1980 SC 846 the Apex Court once again upheld the under trials right to personal liberty and ordered the release of the petitioners on their own bond and without sureties as they had spent six years awaiting their trial, in prison. The court deplored the delay in police investigation and the mechanical operation of the remand process by the magistrates insensitive to the personal liberty of the under trials, remanded by them to prison. The Court deplored the delay in police investigation and the mechanical operation of the remand process by the magistrates insensitive to the personal liberty of under trials, and the magistrate failure to monitor the detention of the under trials remanded by them to prison.
The travails of illegal detainees languishing in prisons, who were uniformed, or too poor to avail of, their right bail under section 167 Cr.P.C. was further brought to light in letters written to Justice Bhagwati by the Hazaribagh Free Legal Aid Committee in Veena Sethi v. State of Bihar (1982) 2 SCC 583. The court recognized the inequitable operation of the law and condemned it- “The rule of law does not exist merely for those who have the means to fight for their rights and very often for perpetuation of status quo… but it exist also for the poor and the downtrodden… and it is solemn duty of the court to protect and uphold the basic human rights of the weaker section of the society. Thus having discussed various hardships of pre-trial detention caused, due to unaffordability of bail and unawareness of their right to bail, to under trials and as such violation of their right to personal liberty and speedy trial under Article 21 as well as the obligation of the court to ensure such right. It becomes imperative to discuss the right to bail and its nexus to the right of free legal aid to ensure the former under the Constitution- in order to sensitize the rule of law of bail to the demands of the majority of poor and to make human rights of the weaker sections a reality.
RIGHT TO BAIL AND RIGHT TO FREE LEGAL AID -:
ARTICLES 21 AND 22 READ WITH ARTICLE 39A
Article 21 of the Constitution is said to enshrine the most important human rights in criminal jurisprudence. The Supreme Court had for almost 27 years after the enactment of the Constitution taken the view that this Article merely embodied a facet of the Dicey on concept of the rule of law that no one can deprived of his life and personal liberty by the executive action unsupported by law. If there was a law which provided some sort of procedure, it was enough to deprive a person of his life and personal liberty.
In the Indian Constitution there is no specifically enumerated constitutional right to legal aid for an accused person. Article 22(1) does provide that no person who is arrested shall be denied the right to consult and to be defended by legal practitioner of his choice, but according to the interpretation placed on this provision by the Supreme Court Janardhan Reddy v. State of Hyderabad, AIR 1951 SC 227. in this provision does not carry with it the right to be provided the services of legal practitioners at state cost. Also Article 39-A introduced in 1976 enacts a mandate that the state shall provide free legal service by suitable legislations or schemes or any other way, to ensure that opportunities for justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities – this however remains a Directive Principle of State Policy which while laying down an obligation on the State does not lay down an obligation enforceable in Court of law and does not confer a constitutional right on the accused to secure free legal assistance.
However the Supreme Court filled up this constitutional gap through creative judicial interpretation of Article 21 following Maneka Gandhi’s case. The Supreme Court held in M.H. Hoskot v. State of Maharashtra a AIR 1978 SC 1548nd Hussainara Khatoon’s case that a procedure which does not make legal services available to an accused person who is too poor to afford a lawyer and who would, therefore go through the trial without legal assistance cannot be regarded as reasonable, fair and just. It is essential ingredient of reasonable, fair and just procedure guaranteed under Article 21 that a prisoner who is to seek his liberation through the court process should have legal services made available to him.
The right to free legal assistance is an essential element of any reasonable, fair and just procedure for a person accused of an offence and it must be held implicit in the guarantee of Article 21.
Thus the Supreme Court spelt out the right to legal aid in criminal proceeding within the language of Article 21 and held that this is….
“a constitutional right of every accused person who is unable to engage a lawyer and secure legal services on account of reasons such as poverty, indigence or incommunicado situation and the State is under a mandate to provide a lawyer to an accused person if the circumstances of the case and the needs of justice so require, provided of course the accused person does not object to the provision of such lawyer.”
It is indisputable that an unnecessarily prolonged detention in prison of under trials before being brought to trial is an affront to all civilized norms of human liberty and any meaningful concept of individual liberty which forms the bedrock of a civilized legal system must view with distress patently long periods of imprisonment before persons awaiting trial can receive the attention of the administration of justice. Thus the law of bails must continue to allow for sufficient discretion, in all cases, to prevent a miscarriage of justice and to give way to the humanization of criminal justice system and to sensitize the same to the needs of those who must otherwise be condemned to languish in prisons for no more fault other than their inability to pay for legal counsel to advise them on bail matters or to furnish the bail amount itself.
While concluding, it seems desirable to draw attention to the absence of an explicit provision in the Code of Criminal Procedure enabling the release, in appropriate cases, of an under trial prisoner on his bond without sureties and without any monetary obligation. There is urgent need for a clear provision. Undeniably, the thousands of under trial prisoners lodged in Indian prisons today include many who are unable to secure their release before trial because of their inability to produce sufficient financial guarantee for their appearance. Where that is the only reason for their continued incarceration, there may be good ground for complaining of invidious discrimination. The more so under a constitutional system which promises social equality and social justice to all of its citizens. The deprivation of liberty for the reason of financial poverty only is an incongruous element in a society aspiring to the achievement of these constitutional objectives. There are sufficient guarantees for appearance in the host of considerations to which reference has been made earlier and, it seems to me, our law-makers would take an important step-in defence of individual liberty if appropriate provision as made in the statute for non-financial releases.
BY SUDERSHANI RAY