Is it Justified to Curtail Liberty of All Accused till Trial ends: Delhi HC asks Police

Justice Prasad observed that nothing restricts the high court from granting bail to those accused of crimes punishable with death or life imprisonment.

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The Delhi High court on Thursday while listening to a batch of bail applications in the North-East Delhi riots case asked about the parameters of granting bail in a case that involves charges under Unlawful Assembly along with Murder (Section 149 and 302 respectively).

Taking into account the large number of people arrested, Justice Subramonium Prasad asked if the liberties of all of the accused under Article 21 can be curtailed till the trial is completed, given that many of them have different degrees of punishment and possible involvement in the riots.

Additional Solicitor General, SV Raju while referring to the Gurcharan Singh & Ors vs State (Delhi Administration) argued that for an offense that involves punishment with death or imprisonment for life, the individual can be confined if there are reasonable grounds to believe the person is guilty during the initial investigation.

He added that whether or not the charges are upheld in the end, the usual parameters for grant of bail will not be applicable due to the gravity of the offence and its punishment.

However, with reference to the same case, Justice Prasad observed that nothing restricts the high court from granting bail to those accused of crimes punishable with death or life imprisonment.

He clarified that the only factors affecting the granting of bail are the nature and gravity of the circumstances when the offence was committed, the position and the status of the accused with respect to the victims and the witnesses, ‘the likelihood, of the accused fleeing from justice; of repeating the offence; of jeopardizing his own life being faced with a grim prospect’ and the history of the case and its investigation.

The court added that an eye-witness along with a video would stand as substantial proof, however, a mere video cannot be considered as strong evidence to detain the accused. The accused have been detained for the past 15 months.

The ASG has responded by reading recorded statements that mention a secret meeting held before the riots with reference to its planning, iterating that the riots were a pre-planned event.

Read: Umar Khalid Granted Bail in a Delhi Riots Case

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