Criminal justice system process itself has become punishment, says SC judge

There is an urgent need to reform the criminal justice system, especially on the issue of bail, says Supreme Court Justice Abdul Nazeer

There is an urgent need to reform the criminal justice system, especially on the issue of bail, says Supreme Court Justice Abdul Nazeer

Supreme Court Justice S. Abdul Nazeer said on Saturday that the criminal justice process itself had become a punishment [with constant denial of bail to the accused]that no criminal jurisprudence has prescribed.

Delivering the Silver Jubilee Endowment Lecture at SDM Law College here, Justice Nazeer said that despite the Supreme Court’s frequent recall to the lower bench, right from the Gurbaksh Singh v Punjab State, the lower courts insisted on denying bail or imposing onerous bail conditions.

Stating that the criminal justice system attacks prisoners on trial, Judge Nazeer noted that the trial itself has become a punishment in the current scenario.

Quoting India’s Chief Justice NV Ramana, who recently said that the process of the criminal justice system has itself become a punishment, ranging from brutal and indiscriminate arrest to securing bail, he declared that urgent legislative reforms were the need of the hour. The CJI had also noted that 80% of inmates over 6 lakh languishing in Indian prisons were prisoners on trial.

He urged Dharmasthala pattadhikari D. Veerendra Heggade, who was recently appointed to the Rajya Sabha, to address the issue in Parliament of reforms in the criminal justice system, particularly the issue of bail. The fundamental guiding principle should be “bail, not jail”.

He wondered if the defendant should remain in prison until the end of the trial. Judge Nazeer doubted that this was the wrong bill.

In the process of bail denial, marginalized sections of society bear the brunt. Even if bail were granted, the courts impose conditions that could be met with great difficulty.

According to a survey, about 14% of inmates awaiting trial remain in jail and are unable to fulfill bail conditions, including posting bail, executing bail, etc. Another 40% take at least a month to complete bail conditions, thus remaining in jail during that time. .

In his address, Mr Heggade said the college was proud to welcome Judge Nazeer, his proud alumnus. From the struggle for freedom to the current administration, defenders have played a crucial role in politics. Teaching law is no longer a “hobby”, but the profession has become lucrative and influential, he said.

Principal Tharanatha, event coordinator Chandralekha and others were present.