The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would re-visit the parameters for grant of bail to undertrials and a larger bench of three judges would lay down the law on it.
A three-judge bench of justices Altamas Kabir, SS Nijjar and J Chelameshwar agreed to examine the controversial issue on January 18, 2012, after senior advocate Ranjit Kumar made a vociferous appeal to the bench.
Kumar contended a re-look at the law by a larger bench was necessary since there were conflicting decisions by several two-judge benches. As a result, he said, lower courts were unable to follow the law.
In a veiled attack at the recent trend of lower courts denying bail to accused in high profile cases, Kumar said these days trial was "media-driven and judges were afraid of their confidential reports".
"A wrong message is going to the courts below. They don't know how to decide on a bail application. An observation is made by the superior court, it is reported in the media and the trial court reacts to it," argued Kumar.
The senior counsel made his arguments while appearing for Vikas Sinha, an accused in the money laundering scam involving former Jharkhand chief minister Madhu Koda. Sinha's bail application is pending before the apex court.
Arguing for his client, Kumar said Sinha had been in jail for past two years, even as the minimum sentence for the offences allegedly committed by him was three years.
The senior counsel contended, "Bail is a rule and jail is an exception. How can a person remain incarcerated in jail for so long without being declared guilty? Jurisprudence says a person is innocent till proven guilty. But CrPC is not being interpreted properly."
Kumar told the bench even accused had fundamental rights. "It was time that at least a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court clearly lays down the law so that rights of the accused are not trampled upon," he said. According to him the principles of Criminal Procedure Code were not being followed.