Monday, 5 October 2015

Give bail to repeatitive offenders cautiously: SC

NEW DELHI: Modifying the "bail is rule, jail exception" view, the Supreme Court has held history-sheeters or habitual offenders to a nuisance and terror to society and asked courts to be cautious in granting bail to such individuals who are not at par with a first-time offender. 

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant said discretionary power of courts to grant bail must be exercised in a judicious manner in case of a habitual offender who should not be enlarged on bail merely on the ground of parity if other accused in the case were granted the relief. 

The SC, which has in slew of cases taken a pro-bail stance, said that criminal past of the accused must be checked before granting bail. It said that courts should not grant bail in a whimsical manner. In the past it has held that seriousness of the offense is not the only ground to deny bail, that compelling circumstances are needed to cancel bail and that interests of individual must be balanced against those of society. 

The bench's observation came as it quashed the order of Allahabad high court which had granted bail to a history-sheeter in a murder case without taking into account the criminal antecedents of the accused who was involved in seven other heinous offences including murder. 

"A history-sheeter involved in the nature of crimes which ... are not minor offences so that he is not to be retained in custody, but the crimes are of heinous nature and such crimes, by no stretch of imagination, can be regarded as jejune (simple)... The law expects the judiciary to be alert while admitting the plea of these kind of accused persons to be at large and, therefore, the emphasis is on exercise of discretion judiciously and not in a whimsical manner," the bench said.

eferring to the number of cases filed against accused Santpal Yadav, the bench said "there can be no scintilla of doubt to name him a history-sheeter" and asked Uttar Pradesh police to take him into custody forthwith if he had been enlarged on bail in the case. 

The bench said it is clear as cloudless sky that the HC has totally ignored the criminal antecedents of the accused and granted bail merely on the ground that eleven other accused were granted the relief earlier. 

"It has been clearly laid down that the grant of bail though involves exercise of discretionary power of the court, such exercise of discretion has to be made in a judicious manner and not as a matter of course. The heinous nature of crimes warrants more caution ... .," the bench said. 

"A crime, as is understood, creates a dent in the law and order situation. In a civilized society, a crime disturbs orderliness. It affects the peaceful life of the society. An individual can enjoy his liberty which is definitely of paramount value but he cannot be a law unto himself. He cannot cause harm to others. He cannot be a nuisance to the collective. He cannot be a terror to the society," the bench said.
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