Prisons are for punishing convicts, not for detaining under trials in order to ‘send message to the society’: Delhi High Court says while granting bail to the Delhi riots accused

Team SoOLEGAL 2 Jun 2020 4:17pm

Prisons are for punishing convicts, not for detaining under trials in order to ‘send message to the society’: Delhi High Court says while granting bail to the Delhi riots accused

While granting bail to a person accused of burning a shop during the Delhi riots, the Delhi High Court has held that 'sending a message to society' could not be the reason for refusing bail if the court was otherwise satisfied that no good in the investigation and prosecution would be served by holding the accused in custody.

The Single Bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani noted that the prison is primarily for punishing convicts and not for detaining under-trials in order to send any 'message' to society.

“The jurisdiction of the court is to deliver justice in accordance with the law, not to send messages to society. It is this feeling, according to which the State demands that under-trials be kept in jail excessively without any purpose that leads to an overcrowding of prisons and leaves under-trials with the inevitable impression that they are being punished even before the trial and consequently unfairly treated by the system. If the prosecutor is unable to carry home guilt at the end of a protracted trial, the State cannot give the accused back the years of productive and valuable life spent in jail. On the other hand, a convict will obviously be made to pass his sentence after it is granted, after trial.”

Appearing for the State, Additional Public Prosecutor submitted that the accused was identified both the complainant Constable Vikas and the CCTV footage from outside of the Rajdhani School. In addition, it was submitted that although no footage of the incident is available, footage from certain cameras installed by the PWD in various parts of the region is still awaited, on the basis of which further investigation will be carried out.

After reviewing the facts, the court observed that the complainant's name is nowhere, or the applicant is otherwise known.

The court refused to rely on the testimony of Constable Vikas, who claimed to be the eye witness, noting that the complainant had stated in his complaint that when the accused allegedly burned his store, he tried to call the police, but in vain.

The case, while granting bail, stressed that:

“Although this court would not ordinarily have entered into any examination of the facts at the stage of granting bail, here is a case where an alleged illegal assembly of some 250-300 people is alleged to have committed crimes in which only two have been picked up by the police, one of which is the claimant. Throughout this unusual case, this court was required to sift the facts only prima-facie and restricted to determining cursorily whether the police determined the claimant from that broad assembly of individuals.”

Tagged: Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani   Delhi High Court   Delhi riots   Rajdhani School   CCTV footage  
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