Advertisement
Tuesday, Nov 30, 2021
Outlook.com
Law/Bail

To Be Punished Until Proven Innocent

Our jails are full of undertrials. ­Are they being punished before their guilt is established in court?

To Be Punished Until Proven Innocent
Photograph by Shutterstock
To Be Punished Until Proven Innocent
outlookindia.com
2021-02-10T17:26:51+05:30

“There is no reason why these undertrial prisoners should be allowed to continue to languish in jail, merely because the State is not in a position to try them within a reasonable period of time. It is possible that some of them, on trial, may be acquitted of the off­ences charged against them and, in that event, they would have spent several years in jail for offences that they are ultimately found not to have committed. What faith would these people have in our system of administration of justice? Would they not carry a sense of frustration and bitterness against a society that keeps them in jail for so many years for offences they did not commit?”

A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices P.N. Bhagwati and D.A. Desai made this observation in 1979 in the landmark Hussainara Khatoon case, while asking the Bihar government to release 40,000-odd undertrials from its prisons. A year earlier, in the Balchand case, the apex court had noted for the first time that “bail, not jail” is the rule. In the Menaka Gandhi case the same year, a five-judge bench held that as Article 21 of the Constitution provides that no person shall be deprived of his life or liberty except in accordance with the procedure established by law, the procedure under which a person may be deprived of his life or liberty “should be reasonable, fair and just”.

Advertisement

Outlook Newsletters

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Read More from Outlook

Omicron: 'We Should Be Very Concerned', Says Virologist T Jacob John

Omicron: 'We Should Be Very Concerned', Says Virologist T Jacob John

Dr Jacob John spoke to Outlook on why India should be concerned about the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 and things need to be done.

'Speed Up Vaccination In View Of Omicron': Top Virologist Shahid Jameel Advises India

'Speed Up Vaccination In View Of Omicron': Top Virologist Shahid Jameel Advises India

Eminent virologist Shahid Jameel speaks to Outlook about the new Covid variant Omicron and its implications.

1st Test, Day 5: PAK Beat BAN By 8 Wickets

1st Test, Day 5: PAK Beat BAN By 8 Wickets

Pakistan chased down a target of 202 runs with relative ease thanks to fine batting show from openers Abid Ali and Abdullah Shafique in Chattogram.

India Reaches Out To African Nations Affected By Omicron Variant Of Covid-19

India Reaches Out To African Nations Affected By Omicron Variant Of Covid-19

India has expressed solidarity with the African nations affected by Omicron and said it is ready to step in with aid.

Advertisement