Uttaranchal High Court: Ravindra Maithani, J., allowed an application that was made in order to reduce the amount of sureties for bail. The petitioner was in judicial custody under Sections 8/20 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, had challenged the order passed by the Special Court Dehradun, by which, his request to reduce the amount of sureties had been rejected.

The applicant was enlarged on bail by this Court, but he could not get his freedom back because he could not arrange for sureties. D.A.G. for the State, V.K. Gemini, had argued that applicant was a resident of Uttar Pradesh and a commercial quantity of charas was recovered from him. If he was released on bail, he may not appear. But after orders of the Court he was granted bail he was required to submit sureties by the concerned court, but as stated, he could not manage the sureties consequently he moved an application from jail that the amount of sureties may be reduced, but this application was rejected by the court concerned. Thus, the instant application was filed.

The Court while relying on the judgment in Moti Ram v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1978) 4 SCC 47, quoted that,

“It is interesting that American criminological thinking and research had legislative response and the Bail Reforms Act, 1966 came into being. The then President, Lyndon B. Johnson made certain observations at the signing ceremony:

Today, we join to recognize a major development in our system of criminal justice : the reform of the bail system.

This system has endued-archaic, unjust and virtually unexamined -since the Judiciary Act of 1789.

The principal purpose of bail is to insure that an accused person will return for trial if he is released after arrest.

How is that purpose met under the present system? The defendant with means can afford to pay bail. He can afford to buy his freedom. But the poorer defendant cannot pay the price. He languishes in jail weeks, months and perhaps even years before trial.

He does not stay in jail because he is guilty.

He does not stay in jail because any sentence has been passed.

He does not stay in jail because he is any More likely to flee before trial.

He stays in jail for one reason only-because he is poor . . . .”

The Court while reducing the amount of the sureties disposed of the application observed that they cannot deny freedom to a person just because he is poor.[Ajeet Pal v. State of Uttarakhand, 2020 SCC OnLine Utt 537, decided on 10-09-2020]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together.

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