Don’t punish accused before trial with ‘innovative’ bail conditions: Madras HC pulls up lower courts

The HC observed that forcing an accused to perform certain tasks in public as a condition for bail, was akin to giving them punishment.
Don’t punish accused before trial with ‘innovative’ bail conditions: Madras HC pulls up lower courts
Don’t punish accused before trial with ‘innovative’ bail conditions: Madras HC pulls up lower courts
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The Madras High Court pulled up a Sessions Court on Wednesday for imposing extremely onerous conditions on an accused for granting anticipatory bail. A Sessions judge in Ariyalur had ordered an accused to remove 100 seemai karuvelam trees from his village, or from neighbouring villages, as a condition for anticipatory bail.

In another case, a court in Mettupalayam had directed an accused to fill water for deer in troughs created by forest department for one month.

The Madras High Court called such conditions imposed on the accused as “obnoxious”, and said that conditions like cutting harmful trees of pouring water for deer could not be given as conditions for bail.

The High Court said that until a trial is concluded, an individual cannot be punished, and observed that the trend of courts passing such orders amounts to punishment of the accused before trial.

Justice P Devadass, while pulling up the lower courts, also said that, “if the court imposes ‘odd conditions’ such as cutting karuvelam trees, pouring water, doing parikrama in schools and hospitals, [it] will not be to the liking of the accused.”

The issue came to the notice of the HC in a case relating to a bail application filed by an accused in a Chennai murder case.

Noting that he would never subscribe to such “odd, onerous and obnoxious” conditions, Justice Devadass observed: “The present spree or competition among judges in our state to impose such bail conditions, signals not the march of law but an onslaught on human rights and human sentiments.”

The Judge further observed that, “In a democratic country based on a written Constitution, where Courts exercise sovereign powers of the State, [they] must pass orders only in accordance with law. It is what 'Rule of Law’ is. Imposing conditions in the bail order is also a ‘judicial function’. The Court is bound to exercise its judicial discretion in a fair and reasonable manner.”

He also asserted that a person is presumed innocent unless he is convicted, and except for the word “accused”, he is still a normal person. He added that even a convicted person is not denuded his basic human rights

Asking a man to cut trees in the presence of others will leave an impression in the minds of others that he might be guilty, implying “he is almost punished even before trial,” Justice Devadass said.

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