The Bombay High Court has demanded an explanation from a magistrate and a session judge at Kalyan who failed to exercise their powers to grant bail to a woman sentenced to less than three years in prison.
The Criminal Procedure Code gives a magistrate powers to suspend a sentence till the time an appeal remains pending and, if the sentence is not more than three years in prison, release the convict on bail.
“Personal liberties are very important right of a citizen of this country and cannot be compromised at any cost,” said Justice Bilal Nazki while hearing the bail application of the woman, who was convicted in a cheque-bounce case.
The division bench of Justice Nazki and Justice Anoop Mohta also directed that the woman be released on bail immediately.
On January 12, the metropolitan magistrate at Kalyan convicted Vandana Kelkar after a cheque of Rs 1.5 lakh issued by her last year bounced.
The magistrate sentenced her to six months of simple imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 1.75 lakh, said public prosecutor Pradeep Hingorani.
Kelkar had then approached the sessions court at Kalyan seeking bail but it was again refused; the sessions judge stated he was holding charge of four courts on that particular day.
“Why did the sessions judge not take up the matter on priority basis where a lady has been sentenced for six months,” observed the high court.