The Criminal Procedure Code, along with other special acts that deal with different forms of crime in India, grants a special benefit to persons who are under the age of sixteen years, women, sick or infirm in matters related to bail. These persons “may be” released on bail even when they have been accused of committing a crime for which bail has not been prescribed by the law. Such crimes are known as “Non-bailable” offences.
However, the Supreme Court of India, recently rejected the application of bail for a woman Deputy Secretary and OSD in the Office of the Chief Minister of Chattisgarh who was accused of money laundering.
The court interpreted the term “may be given bail” under the provisions in the law to mean that this benefit is not absolute. It is given at the discretion of the court. It cannot be considered mandatory or obligatory on the court’s part and cannot be given just on the basis of the identity of a person.
When the court considers an application seeking bail for anyone, including the abovementioned protected persons, they consider the following grounds:
- Nature of the accusation,
- Nature of the evidence collected in support of the accusation,
- Nature and length of the punishment for the alleged offences,
- Character of the accused,
- Circumstances of the accused,
- Possibility that the accused will be present during the trial,
- Larger public interest and safety,
- Possibility that the accused can threaten or influence the witness or tamper with the evidence
The court’s evaluation gets stricter and more detailed when the punishment of the crime has:
- Death penalty,
- Prison for life,
- Jail time of more than 7 years,
If a person has been previously punished on two or more occasions for a crime that has jail time of 3 to 7 years.
In general, an accused may receive bail in non-bailable offences if it appears to the officer or the court at any stage of the inquiry or trial that the accused has not committed the non-bailable offence. They also become eligible to receive bail if the trial of a person accused with non bailable offence takes more than 60 days, and the person has been in jail all this while.
To know more about the laws on bail, click here