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Key Takeaways

  • Courts are routinely assigning community service as a bail condition.
  • Interpretations of the bail provisions in the Criminal Procedure Code indicate that the courts cannot impose these conditions, and such conditions should be void
  • The law works on the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”. At the bail stage, only the provisions which can be later reversed if accused is proven innocent should be imposed. Bail is an irreversible condition.

Introduction

  • Recently courts have started following the trend of assigning community service as a bail condition upon an accused.
  • Recently an individual who allegedly outraged the modesty of a woman and attempted to rape her was directed by a court in Bihar to wash and iron clothes of all women in the village for six months.
  • Interpretations of the bail provisions in the Criminal Procedure Code indicate that the courts cannot impose these conditions, and such conditions should be void.
  • Under Chapter XXXIII of the Cr.P.C bail provisions are given. The court derives power from section 437(3) of the CrPC when assigning community service. The provision allows the court to impose any condition considered necessary in the ‘interest of justice’ when the suspect is accused of a crime that is punishable with imprisonment which may extend to seven years or more.

Legal interpretations

  • In the case of Kunal Kumar Tiwari v. the State of Bihar, the phrase “interest of justice” used in the section, was interpreted as good administration of justice" or "advancing the trial process”.
  • In M. Sreenivassulu Reddy v. State of Tamil Nadu, it was stated that the court may impose conditions, but the object of the conditions should be to avoid the possibility of the person hampering with the investigation.
  • In Rakesh Gupta v. State of NCT of Delhi, the Delhi High Court held that conditions necessary for purposes mentioned under Section 437(3) of the CrPC can be put. Conditions that prevent the accused from tampering with the investigation or with the evidence can be put. The aim should be to ensure a smooth trial.

Conclusion

  • The law works on the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”. At the bail stage, only those provisions which can be later reversed if the accused is proven innocent should be imposed. They are put to balance the rights of the accused and of the victim.
  • Community service conditions are irreversible, and a person who has already fulfilled the community service requirements cannot reverse their actions later. Hence, the condition can be equated to a punishment given before trial.
  • It violates the right to personal liberty under article 21.
  • Although courts have been given the power to impose conditions, the object of these powers is to facilitate the administration of justice. Any condition which does not advance investigation or trial should be void in law.

Questions

  • Under which part of the Cr.P.C. are bail provisions given?
  • Do you think community service should be allowed as a bail condition?

Share your views in the comments section below.

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