What began as a sideshow of Dravida Mun-netra Kazhagam (DMK) MP Kanimozhi being denied bail had in recent times overshadowed the main event, that of the 2G spectrum allocation scam. With the Delhi high court granting her and four others bail on Monday, not only has it gone strictly by the law, it's also cleared the decks for the trial in one of the most publicised scandals. In not allowing public sentiment, which has been one of great anger against those perceived to be corrupt, to detract from the principles of jurisprudence, the court has demonstrated its objectivity and sent out the clear message that no one is above the law. However, it's also made clear that the fact that bail was denied earlier didn't suggest guilt and now that it has, the accused have in no way been exonerated.
Those who felt that Ms Kanimozhi and some of the others accused should be kept in jail lest they influence the course of investigations were barking up the wrong tree. The investigations are complete and the charges have been framed. The gap in time between the licences in the 2G allocation being issued and the probe was enough, if anyone wanted, to conceal or even destroy evidence, so that couldn't be cited as a valid reason not to grant bail. As for influencing witnesses, given the high-profile nature of the case, the accused can be certain that they won't be able to do anything of the sort under the eagle eye of the judiciary. The delay in granting Ms Kanimozhi bail may have puzzled some because the Supreme Court granted this to five other accused. That the high court would follow suit was more or less a given but what was uncertain was the timing.
The fears that political exigencies would work in favour of the accused were totally misplaced. Even though Ms Kanimozhi's party is an ally at the Centre, the courts have been strictly objective in this case. It's upheld the principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, the very bedrock on which our judicial system is founded. This should also facilitate a relook at the vast number of undertrials languishing in jail without bail, often for years on end. In establishing that jail is the exception and bail the rule, the court has done a signal service for such people. In fact, the apex court, in an unrelated move, has decided to revisit the parameters for bail for undertrials and decreed that a three-judge bench would frame a law on this. As former chief justice JS Verma once said, "Be you ever so high, the law is above you." And it's precisely because of this that every citizen can aspire to a fair judicial process, whether it be a powerful person like Ms Kanimozhi or the many undertrials who have fallen through the judicial cracks.