The Bombay High Court has ruled that the NALSA Program for Undertrial Prisoners cannot eliminate the court’s discretion to grant or deny bail.
According to the Bombay High Court, in the case of Mahipati Antu Jadhav v. State of Maharashtra ( Criminal Bail Application No. 2777 of 2022) the NALSA’s plan for the release of convicts who are awaiting trial is intended to draw attention to the undertrial inmates who are languishing in jail, but it cannot supersede the court’s power to grant or deny bail to such detainees based on merits. When rejecting bail to a murder suspect, Justice S. M. Modak noted that nothing could interfere with the court’s right to decide whether to grant bail.
FACTS OF THE CASE :
The accused, who was charged with a murder offence under Section 302 of the IPC, requested bail under Trials Over 65 Years Old Category 16 of the [email protected] Scheme. The nature of the offence or the length of the accused’s imprisonment as a prisoner pending trial are not mentioned in this category. The accused was eligible because he was 71 years old. The Sessions Court rejected his request for bail.
According to attorney Hrishikesh R. Chavan, if the merits of the cases are taken into account, the scheme’s goals will be defeated. The State’s APP N. B. Patil argued that the case’s merits must be taken into consideration; otherwise, many inmates awaiting trial will be released on bail, regardless of the case’s merits. The Sessions Court denied the accused’s bail request after the court took notice of the accused’s attempt to assassinate four witnesses.
The plan was designed with the high percentage of convicts awaiting trial, the court remarked. The plan required the government to take action to free the convicts awaiting trial. Nonetheless, the court ruled that the accused is ineligible for release after the trial court and HC weighed the merits.
“It is true that it is the discretion of the concerned Court ; whether to grant bail or not. Such discretion cannot be taken away by any act. So, we gather that by framing such a scheme, the attention of the concerned stakeholders is brought to the effect that in your district, there are certain prisoners who are languishing in jail for so many years.”, the Court stated.
The trial has already begun, the court said. Hence, it instructed the trial court to take into account the fact that the accused is older than 65 and the plan was set up for the release of undertrial detainees older than 65.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEW BY SREYA MARY.