Rights which the citizens cherish deeply, are fundamental- it is not the restrictions that are fundamental, reminded Justice S. Ravindra Bhat while concluding his judgment on the issue whether the Anticipatory Bail Protection should be for a limited period.
The Judge reproduced a quote of Joseph Story, the great jurist and US Supreme Court judge: "personal security and private property rest entirely upon the wisdom, the stability, and the integrity of the courts of justice."
He said that arbitrary and groundless arrests continue as a pervasive phenomenon and cautioned against restriction of power to grant anticipatory bail by judicial interpretation. The judge concluded his judgment as follows:
The history of our republic – and indeed, the freedom movement has shown how the likelihood of arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention and the lack of safeguards played an important role in rallying the people to demand independence. Witness the Rowlatt Act, the nationwide protests against it, the Jallianwalla Bagh massacre and several other incidents, where the general public were exercising their right to protest but were brutally suppressed and eventually jailed for long. The specter of arbitrary and heavy-handed arrests: too often, to harass and humiliate citizens, and oftentimes, at the interest of powerful individuals (and not to further any meaningful investigation into offences) led to the enactment of Section 438.
Despite several Law commission reports and recommendations of several committees and commissions, arbitrary and groundless arrests continue as a pervasive phenomenon. Parliament has not thought it appropriate to curtail the power or discretion of the courts, in granting pre-arrest or anticipatory bail, especially regarding the duration, or till charge sheet is filed, or in serious crimes. Therefore, it would not be in the larger interests of society if the court, by judicial interpretation, limits the exercise of that power: the danger of such an exercise would be that in fractions, little by little, the discretion, advisedly kept wide, would shrink to a very narrow and unrecognizably tiny portion, thus frustrating the objective behind the provision, which has stood the test of time, these 46 years.
Read Judgment (Page 122)