Bail(s) should not be a matter of discretion (of judges).A poor person should be treated at par with the rich

Union law minister Sadananda Gowda has urged the newly appointed chairman of Law Commission to explore the possibility of a Bail Act that would ensure “uniformity and predictability“ in matters relating to grant of bail in the country . Gowda urged the commission chairman, retired Justice BS Chauhan, to explore a “major revamp“ in the bail system so that there is parity between the poor and the rich in their right to bail.The minister had met Justice Chauhan on March 29 where he urged the latter to examine bail laws prevailing in countries such as the UK and US. Under Section 5 (3) of the Bail Act, 1976 of the UK, a court in England that withholds bail is required to give reasons for doing so. Likewise, in the US an accused has the right to bail unless there is sufficient reason not to grant it.

The matter was first mooted by the law ministry last year after Bollywood star Salman Khan was granted bail the same day when he was convicted in a hit-and-run case.The ministry in September had written to the then chairman of Law Commission, retired Justice AP Shah, seeking a report suggest ing revamp of the bail system. Gowda had spearheaded the initiative with an inter nal note.“There is a growing dissatisfaction among public about the system of grant of bail. Though it is a uniform and reasonable provision in theory but in practice it does not prove to be so. Rather, it has a crude effect on the undertrials and hence the system of grant of bail has come under severe criticism from a cross-section of society,“ he had said. “Therefore, the bail system as it is practiced in India may have to be studied in detail and major revamp may have to be brought in.“

A senior official of the law ministry, requesting anonymity, told ET, “Bail(s) should not be a matter of discretion (of the judges). A poor person should be treated at par with a rich or an influential person when it comes to grant of bail. And that is possible only when there are specific guidelines laid down for grant of bail.“

Another benefit of this, the person said, will be “that the judges would be required to give reasons for denying bail which would benefit an accused or an undertrial in challenging the order before an appellate court“.

“Since at present bail is a matter of discretion (of the judges) the accused virtually has no cogent reason to immediately move in appeal against the denial of bail,“ the person said.

The law ministry has told the Law Commission to submit a report after detailed examination of the subject.