Bail & electioneering: SC upholds right to political engagement - The Tribune India

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Bail & electioneering

SC upholds right to political engagement

Bail & electioneering


THE Supreme Court ruling striking down bail conditions that restrain individuals from participating in political activities is a significant reaffirmation of the fundamental rights of citizens. The court’s decision underscores the principle that the democratic exercise of political engagement cannot be curtailed through the imposition of restrictive conditions, especially as a prerequisite for bail. In the case of BJP leader Siba Shankar Das, the Orissa High Court’s imposition of a bail rider barring him from political activities was deemed a violation of his right to engage in political discourse, which is sacrosanct and must be safeguarded.

Several politicians have taken part in campaigning while being out on bail over the years. Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Prasad Yadav campaigned extensively during various elections while he was on bail in connection with a slew of corruption cases. Sonia Gandhi was granted bail in the National Herald case in 2015 and she continued to address rallies and mobilise support for the Congress; likewise, Mayawati was involved in campaigning for the Bahujan Samaj Party when she was on bail. In 2010, Amit Shah was granted bail in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh encounter case, and he played a key role in the BJP’s poll campaigns in Gujarat and other states. Their presence at the hustings highlighted the significance of active participation in the democratic process.

Pertinently, the Supreme Court has noted that the current bail system is marred by complexities and shortcomings that lead to bail decisions often being subject to the discretion of individual judges. Calling upon the government to come up with a special legislation on bail, it has emphasised the importance of codifying of clear and uniform guidelines for granting bail, ensuring consistency, transparency and fairness in the administration of justice.

#Supreme Court


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