NEGLECTED CARDINAL PRINCIPLES…?

While the nation is striving to provide the best justice delivery system to its people, it is an irony that certain fundamental principles of jurisprudence seem to be unjustly eroded mostly due to the negligence of those concerned with administration of the justice system especially the criminal justice system. It was in this regard that Madras High Court in a case before it expressed concern over the two oft-neglected cardinal principles, namely that ‘bail is the rule and jail is the exception’, and ‘persons accused of having committed a crime are presumed to be innocent unless proved guilty’, being mostly neglected while administering the criminal justice. In the instant case Justice MS Ramesh strongly reiterated these principles while allowing a bail plea moved by a person arrested for having gotten into an argument with the complainant. The judge quite rightly came down upon the authorities reprimanding them for casually pressing for the detention of accused persons, even in respect of petty offences. It is a fact that the trial Courts have, of late, lost insight of two cardinal principles of criminal jurisprudence, while dealing with applications for grant of bail. It is really an irony that despite the Supreme Court having time and again reiterated these cardinal principles, even in petty offences, matrimonial disputes, criminal and commercial disputes, etc., the police have been invoking their powers vested to them during the pre-independence era and unnecessarily seeking remand of these persons. The Madras High Court rightly stated that even the jurisdictional trial Courts have been mechanically remanding such persons, overlooking these cardinal principles. As per the principles of criminal jurisprudence, the detention of the accused would be justified when the crime in question is a serious one or when the accused is a habitual offender but unfortunately, instead of confining the use of this measure to such cases, even those accused of petty crimes were being detained routinely. The same stands substantiated by the observation made by Justice MS Ramesh that the persons, who are alleged to have been involved for offences under Sections 294(b) and 506(i) of IPC and other petty offences are being produced by the Investigating Officers before the jurisdictional Magistrates for remanding them and most of the time, such an action is taken even on the same day, on which the complaint is received and the FIR is registered. Nowadays cases pertaining to matrimonial disputes, civil disputes, and other commercial disputes are being veiled with a criminal colour and indiscriminate arrests are being made across the nation. Today there is a dire need for the authorities dealing with the criminal justice system to remind themselves of the aforesaid cardinal principles to restrict the cases in which jailing of the accused is insisted upon. It is hoped that taking the observations of the Madras High Court seriously, the Investigating Officers as well as the trial Courts reappraise themselves about these cardinal principles and cautiously refrain from remanding the persons involved. The need for arrest should arise only when the Investigating Officer comes to the conclusion that such an arrest is imminent and absolutely necessary. Demanding remand in almost each and every case by the investigation officer and granting of the same denies the presumed to be innocent (accused) the freedom to which he or she is legally entitled to. So let the basic principles regarding bail laid down by the then Justice Krishna Aiyar asserting that ‘bail not jail should be the rule’ be applied in true letter and spirit by those dealing with the criminal justice system.