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Key Takeaways

  • The Code of Criminal Procedure has a provision for granting bail on medical grounds and this power has been exercised in numerous cases.
  • The accused is given access to medical facilities as a matter of human rights even though he might have violated the rights of another individual.
  • The United Nations Organization has various provisions that call for the States to ensure safety of not only the innocent citizens but the prisoners as well.
  • The article elaborately discussed the previous instances of medical bail, along with provisions around the globe for the same.

Introduction

A person committing a crime has to be punished. The importance of Right to Life and Personal Liberty comes into play when such an instance arises. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution establishes that no citizen of the country would be restricted from enjoying his life unless it is done by procedure established by law.

So when the question of freedom to an offender arises, the gravity of his offence and also the threat that he might possess to the society is to be considered. The offences are thus divided according to their nature, i.e. civil and criminal offences. Criminal offences are then further divided into bailable and non-bailable offences on the basis of the gravity of the offence.

From the very name it is evident that a person accused of a bailable offence can get a bail. Does this mean that a person accused of non-bailable offence cannot be granted bail, no matter what?

Bail Provision on Medical Grounds in India

The Code of Criminal Procedure regulates the provision regarding criminal offences. In bailable offences, the accused can claim bail as a matter of right but that is not the case with non-bailable offences. In the case of non-bailable offences as well, the accused can get a bail but he cannot claim it as a matter of right, rather he has to request the Court for bail and it is the discretion of the Court on whether to grant the bail or not.

In the case of State of Maharashtra v. Sitaram Popat Vital [AIR 2004 SC 4258], the Court laid down the factors to take into consideration before granting bail. The nature of the crime and the severity of the crime, along with the apprehended punishment, if the accused is convicted, is the first and foremost factor for consideration. It is also important to consider the probability of the accused trying to tamper the evidence and witnesses as well.

The Supreme Court in the case of Prahlad Singh Bhati v. NCT Delhi and Ors. [AIR 2002 SC 1475], stated that when the accused is below 16 years, a woman or is sick, then the condition of not releasing the accused on the ground of the offence being punishable with death or imprisonment for life, should not be applied.

Section 437 of Code of Criminal Procedure lays down the provision to seek bail in case of a non-bailable offence.If the person is arrested without warrant for a non-bailable offence and is brought before a Court, other than the Court of Session or High Court, he can be released on bail but subject to the condition that he might be punishable with death or imprisonmentor had he been previously convicted of offence punishable with death, life imprisonment, imprisonment for seven years or more or had he been convicted earlier twice for offences punishable with imprisonment for three year or more. But this is also subject to the condition that the person can be released on grounds of the person being under sixteen years or a woman or on medical grounds. Merely by the fact of the accused being required for identification, he cannot be denied bail. In any case, the public prosecutor is to be given a chance to be heard before granting bail to the accused.

Instances of Medical Bail

Medical Bail or granting bail in medical cases has been in practice from a very long time. Be it the case of the person who threw a shoe at Arvind Kejriwal or be it a case of a hardcore criminal, the Courts have the discretion to grant bail on grounds of the deteriorating health of the accused.

Lalu Yadav Medical Bail Case

Lalu Yadav, the former Chief Minister of Bihar, was accused of multi-crore fodder scam for money withdrawal from Government treasuries for animal husbandry in the 1990s. He was also convicted in the Chaibasa Treasury case, Deogarh Treasury case and the DumkaTreasury case as well. He was granted six weeks provisional bail and later on the bail was extended for another 3 months on medical grounds. He was treated in the Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai.

Nawaz Sharif Medical Bail Case

The former Prime Minister of Pakistan was arrested in a corruption case. The verdict of the case was announced after being reserved for a short time. The former PM was admitted in the Pakistan’s anti-graft body’s custody after a drastic drop in his blood platelet count was seen. The Islamabad High Court granted him bail for eight weeks with two surety bonds of 2 Million each.

Sanjay Chandra Medical Bail Case

The accused was taken into judicial custody for siphoning off home buyers’ money. The company and its sister companies’ audit revealed crores of Rupees not utilized by the company. The accused, along with his brother, were taken into custody. He was granted bail under some conditions. He had approached the High Court for extension of his bail as he was suffering from co-morbidities, after the CMM rejected the application for extension. The High Court granted the extension of the bail with the same conditions imposed by the CMM, while granting the bail.

Varavara Rao Medical Bail Case

The 81 year old activist, poet and writer, Varavara Rao was granted bail for 6 months on medical grounds, considering his age and inadequate medical facilities at the prison. He had been diagnosed with dementia and was also tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. He was granted bail on several conditions, including him to submit his passport to the Court and to not leave the NIA jurisdiction, along with him not speaking to the media or tampering any evidences or influencing witnesses. His request to travel to his hometown was rejected but he can opt for an extension or he can surrender before the Court after the expiry of six months.

Stan Swamy Medical Bail Case

Stan Swamy, who was a human rights activist, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency, during October 2020, along with several other activists who were charged under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease, among other ailments and upon the suggestion of getting hospitalized in a Government hospital, he had refused, stating his condition had deteriorated and he would rather die. The High Court permitted for moving him to a private hospital, despite opposition from the NIA, even though the bail application is still not decided.

The Supreme Court had time and again reiterated that higher standards for granting bail should be exercised when granting bail, in case of special laws. When the Fundamental Rights of the accused are violated, even if the prima facie accusations are true, the Constitutional Court has the power to rescue the accused.

Mehul Choksi Medical Bail Case

The Indian fugitive who was accused in the Punjab National Bank fraud case for crores of rupees was granted bail by the Domincan Court as he was diagnosed with neurological issues and he was taken to Antigua for treatment. He is to report to the Court after he is fit to travel. He was asked to deposit bail money before the Court and was to follow the conditions imposed by the Court.

Medical Bail around the Globe

The United Nation Organization was formed to have a common body to regulate the laws of the world in general. The various organizations set up under the UNO have various Articles for the protection of Human Rights like Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that every person has a right to medical care and the standard of living necessary for his health and well-being. Article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states, all people whose liberty has been taken away must be treated with kindness and respect. The countries all over the globe have provisions for providing bail on medical grounds, even in countries with a strict criminal justice system. The Rule 27 of the Nelson Mandela Rules also prescribes for immediate access of medical facilities to the prisoners and having proper staff and facilities when a prison has its own hospital facilities.

Japan

The Article 90 of the Code of Criminal Procedure lays down that if the Court deems fit, it can grant bail ex officio. The bail can be granted even when the bail is not requested by the accused. There is also a provision of mandatory bail when the Court finds that the accused has been detained for an unnecessary and unreasonably long duration. Even in case of release as a matter of right, the monetary security and conditions for granting bail are decided after considering the mental and physical condition of the accused along with the social status, career, reputation, etc.

China

The People’s Republic of China has provisions that ensure that the accused’s health is not compromised. Article 3 of the Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Arrest and Detention (1979) prescribes for when the accused is seriously ill, the trial would take place live in home surveillance or a guarantor pending trial.

It also has provisions that provide the accused with proper medical facilities with hospitalization in local hospital, if and when required. The accused can also be released on bail pending trial according to procedure established by law, if the illness is serious. The accused can seek bail on medical grounds when held in detention centers.

Conclusion

A person who commits a crime is deprived of his life and liberty by procedure of law. But even then, the justice system makes sure to protect the human rights that the accused has. Though the opinion of a lot of people stands with letting the accused suffer for the crimes he has committed, it would not be justice.
The countries of the world have provisions to ensure that when a prisoner requires medical attention, he should be provided with the same. There is scope for this facility to be misused by the accused, so the Court has been given the discretion to decide on whether to grant bail or not. Having uniformity in this matter would be difficult as every case is different from the other.


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