Maintaining that bail is the rule and jail an exception, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said both seriousness of the charge and severity of punishment should be taken into account while determining bail.
"Deprivation of liberty must be considered a punishment. When the undertrial prisoners are detained in jail for an indefinite period, Article 21 of the Constitution is violated," said a bench of justice GS Singhvi and justice HL Datt while granting bail to five executives in the 2G spectrum scam.
It added: "The court owe more than verbal respect to the principle that punishment begins after conviction and that every man is deemed to be innocent until duly tried and duly found guilty."
The five, Unitech Wireless MD Sanjay Chandra, Swan Telecom director Vinod Goneka and Reliance ADAG executives — Hari Nair, Gautam Doshi and Surendra Pipara — were in jail for seven months. They had moved SC challenging May 23 Delhi high court verdict declining them bail. The HC had affirmed the trial court order.
Both courts had denied bail to them, observing they faced serious corruption charges. The SC termed both orders as against the "normal rule of bail system".
"Every person, detained or arrested, is entitled to speedy trial," it held, noting since 2G trial may take considerable time the accused may end up in jail longer than the period of sentence, if found guilty.
Kanimozhi seeks early bail hearing
Encouraged by the SC order granting bail to five corporate executive, DMK MP Kanimozhi and five other accused, moved the Delhi HC for early hearing of their bail plea. It is scheduled for December 1.