The process is the punishment

Synopsis: The right to Liberty is a fundamental right as enshrined in our constitution. But given the number of people denied bail, this needs closer scrutiny.

Introduction
Recently in the Aryan Khan case, the courts denied the bail again. Earlier only the poor were victims of denials of bail. Now it looks like jail and not the bail has become the norm.

What do the judgements say about the matter of bail?
In a recent judgement in the Arnab Goswami case, SC remarked that liberty survives in the cacophony of media and courts which uphold the rule of law.
SC also referred to the Justice Krishna Iyer Judgement (Rajsthan vs Balchand) where he had put that rule is bail, not jail.
Earlier, Justice Bhagwati had remarked that the right to Liberty is enshrined in our constitution and thus must be upheld in every case.

What is the condition in India?
There are about 91,568 bail pleas pending in High Court and about 1.96L in district courts. Moreover, government agencies look people up on flimsy grounds, government lawyers oppose every bail plea in principle. This often leaves the poor and vulnerable with no way out other than rotting in jail.
In these matters, while Supreme Court seems to uphold the right to Liberty, lower courts seem to have forgotten their duty.

What should be the way forward?
Justice Bhagwati worried about the poor. But now it seems even the rich have no options when government agencies are targeting them as was seen in Rhea Chakraborty case and Aryan Khan case. The solution lay in courts acting the first line of defence by upholding the constitution.

Source:This article is based on the post “The process is the punishment” published in the Business Standard on 22nd October.

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