While reducing the amount of sureties for Bail of a "poor person", the Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday (10th September) observed that the petitioner could not get his freedom back because he could not arrange for sureties.
The Single Bench of Justice Ravindra Maithani further remarked,
"In the instant case petitioner is in jail because he is poor. It cannot be afforded, it should not happen and this Court will not allow it to happen."
The Court was hearing the Writ Petition of one Ajeet Pal, who was in judicial custody in Crime No. 56 of 2018, under Section 8/20 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, Police Station Premnagar, District Dehradun.
Background of the matter
The Petitioner challenged the order dated 10.10.2019 passed by the Special Court Dehradun, by which, his request to reduce the amount of sureties had been rejected.
It may be noted that the applicant was enlarged on bail by the High Court, on 16.08.2018, in Bail Application No. 1317 of 2018, but he could not arrange for sureties.
The Petitioner was required to submit sureties by the concerned court, on 28.08.2018, but as stated, he could not manage the sureties.
In the month of October 2019 he moved an application from jail that the amount of sureties may be reduced, but this application was rejected by the Court concerned, on 10.10.2019, on the ground that the orders passed cannot be reviewed in view of Section 362 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
Thereafter, he moved the Legal Services Authorities and the 'High Court Legal Service Committee, Nainital' had taken this cause. This gesture of 'High Court Legal Service Committee, Nainital' was duly acknowledged and appreciated by the Court.
The High Court, while referring to the Judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Moti Ram v. State of Madhya Pradesh, (1978) 4 SCC 47, (wherein the Apex Court had quoted certain observation of American President Lyndon B. Johnson, in para no. 15 of the Judgment), remarked,
"Petitioner is not in jail because he has been convicted, the petitioner is not in jail because he has denied bail, but he is in jail because he cannot secure sureties." (emphasis supplied)
Consequently, the Applicant/Petitioner was directed to be enlarged on bail, subject to his furnishing a personal bond of Rs.5,000/- only. With this, the instant writ petition stood disposed of accordingly.
It is interesting to note what the Apex Court had stated (quoted observation of American President Lyndon B. Johnson) in the Case of Moti Ram (supra) in para no. 15. We are reproducing the said para of the Judgment as hereunder:-
"15. 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 . . . ."
Case Title: Ajeet Pal v. State of Uttarakhand
Case No.: Writ Petition (Criminal) No. 778 of 2020
Quorum: Justice Ravindra Maithani
Appearance: Advocate Gauri Devi Dev (for the Petitioners); D.A.G V. K. Gemini (for the State).
Click Here To Download Order