Indigent can’t be denied regular bail in inability to furnish surety bonds: High Court
Chandigarh, November 26, 2023: As per media reports, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that an indigent person cannot be denied regular bail in one case because he is compelled to stay inside the jail in other matters following his inability to furnish the surety bonds. Emphasising the constitutional right to liberty and the principle that “bail is the rule and jail is an exception”, Justice Sandeep Moudgil of the high court has also allowed his bail plea.
“It is, in fact, an unfortunate case where due to poverty, a person is compelled to stay inside the jail despite orders of the courts for releasing him on bail and on that count alone, the instant petition for regular bail cannot be dismissed,” Justice Moudgil asserted. 26
According to the news published in The Tribune, the petitioner, 24, was seeking regular bail in a case alleging attempt to commit robbery or dacoity and other offences under the provisions of the IPC and the Arms Act. His counsel, among other things, had contended that the petitioner, belonging to a poor family, was the only breadwinner after his father’s death. His mother had also been operated upon for a major head surgery.
Coming to his rescue, Justice Moudgil asserted pendency of other criminal cases could not pose a predicament for the court to consider regular bail plea. It was undeniable that the petitioner was in custody in other cases as he was unable to furnish surety bonds as directed by the trial court, further strengthening his case that he belonged to poor strata of society.
Referring to the merits of the case, Justice Moudgil asserted that a “very insignificant role” was attributed to the accused in the case. Incriminating and cogent material had not been placed on record to connect the petitioner with the commissioning of the offence.
Justice Moudgil added that Article 21 of the Constitution not only ensured speedy trial, but also made it clear that bail was the rule, jail exception. Keeping a person behind bars for an indefinite period certainly curtailed his right to life and liberty until and unless he stood convicted by any court of law. But that was not the case in the instant matter.