Chandigarh, November 30
Making it clear that the conviction rate in the country was abysmally low, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that imprisonment before it was, especially then, a sort of punishment.
Life God's most precious gift
Justice Jagmohan Bansal also asserted that every human being’s life was God’s most precious gift. Everyone had a “very limited span of life” which could not be spoiled due to “incompetence, personal grudge, or brutal, illegal, unethical action of the state machinery”.
Justice Bansal also made it clear that there was neither a mechanism to compensate a man found innocent later on, nor could acquittal return valuable time, energy, status, future of the family, especially children, lost following the breadwinner’s incarceration.
Justice Bansal was hearing a plea seeking the quashing of an order passed on September 9 by the Ludhiana Additional Sessions Judge, whereby bail bonds furnished by the petitioner were cancelled and non-bailable warrants of arrest issued after he failed to appear.
Justice Bansal asserted that the intent of the arrest and reason for bail denial was to secure the appearance of the accused at the time of trial. A person seeking liberation was required to take judgment and serve a sentence in the event of his conviction. The nature of the crime charged, severity of punishment prescribed, prime facie available evidence, history and background of the accused might indicate that any amount of bond and surety was not going to secure his presence at the time of conviction.
Justice Bansal, at the same time, asserted that the object of the arrest was neither punitive, nor preventive. Detention or arrest not only deprived a person the fundamental right of personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21, but also freedom guaranteed under Article 19(1) of the Constitution.
Justice Bansal asserted: “Except habitual offenders, commoners living a simple life after arrest lose self-respect and confidence. It has become common to put criminal law in motion even though the dispute is purely contractual or civil in nature...”
Allowing the plea, Justice Bansal added that the object of the cancellation of bond or PO/person declaration was to secure presence. The petitioner had come forward to face trial and undertook to appear before court on every date. As such, his presence would meet the ends of justice.
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