Arrest should be the last option in a criminal investigation, the Supreme Court has ruled.
A bench headed by Justice Dalveer Bhandari added that unnecessary incarceration of a person violated the fundamental right to personal liberty and, so, arrest should be restricted to times when it is imperative keeping in mind the facts and circumstances of the case.
The bench said: “Personal liberty is a very precious fundamental right and it should be curtailed only when it becomes imperative according to the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case.”
It added that anticipatory bail to a person should continue till the conclusion of a trial and no conditions should be imposed on the accused to surrender for obtaining a regular bail.
The apex court made the remarks while granting anticipatory bail to Siddharam Satlingappa Mhetre, a Congress leader allegedly involved in the killing of a BJP worker on September 26, 2009, in Maharashtra.
Mhetre had moved the Supreme Court after the Bombay High Court dismissed his anticipatory bail plea. The apex court said it is a common knowledge that a large number of undertrials are languishing in jail on charges of committing minor offences.
“A great ignominy, humiliation and disgrace is attached to arrest... Most people do not make any distinction between arrest at a pre-conviction stage or post-conviction stage,” the court stated.
It said the courts’ practice to grant anticipatory bail with conditions like asking the person to surrender before a court for regular bail was contrary to the statute and ruling set by a Constitution Bench.
“The court would certainly be entitled to impose conditions for the grant of bail. The public prosecutor or complainant would be at liberty to move the same court for cancellation or modifying the conditions of bail any time if liberty granted by the court is misused,” the apex court said.