Reform in Bail law

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Reform in Bail law

  • Recently Supreme Court urged the Centre to bring a new law to simplify and streamline the process of bail, referring to the Bail Act of the U.K.

Observation of the Court

  • Judgment issued clarifications to 2021 ruling on guidelines for considering bail for offences under the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), 1973.
  • Court: Arrest should be used occasionaly.
  • It highlighted presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
  • Unwarranted arrests violate Section 41 (empowers police to arrest without a warrant) and Section 41A (deals with the procedure for appearance before police) of the CrPC.

What is the present law?

  • Bail is governed by provisions in the CrPC.
  • Offences are categorised as bailable and non-bailable.
  • Section 436: Bail is a right in bailable offences and the police or court is bound to release the accused following the furnishing of a bail bond, with or without surety.
  • For a non-bailable offence, an accused cannot claim bail as a right.
    • The discretion lies with the courts.
  • Section 437: Circumstances in which courts can grant bail for non-bailable offences.
  • Provision mandates the court to consider granting bail to an accused below 16 years, someone who is sick, or is a woman.

What are some of the guidelines from the Court?

  • Court asked the Centre to consider introducing a “Bail Act”.
  • Bail pleas have to be disposed of within two weeks except when provisions mandate otherwise.
  • A plea for anticipatory bail has to be decided within six weeks.
  • Courts need not insist on a formal bail application in some stages.
  • Court directed high courts to identify undertrials who are unable to comply with bail conditions and take action to facilitate their release.

What is the U.K. law on bail?

  • In UK, the Bail Act of 1976 governs the procedure for granting or denying bail.
  • It recognises a “general right” to bail and aims to reduce the number of inmates to prevent clogging of jails.
  • It says an accused should be granted bail unless there is a justified reason to refuse it.
  • Bail can be rejected if the court finds substantial grounds for believing that the defendant will fail to surrender, commit an offence, or interfere with witnesses if released on bail.
  • The court has to give reasons in case it withholds or alters bail conditions.