High Court Emphasizes Long Detention Deserves Bail, Regardless of Offense Severity

The Bombay High Court recently issued a significant ruling emphasizing the importance of personal liberty and timely trials for undertrial prisoners, even in cases involving serious offenses. The court’s decision came during a bail hearing for Akash Chandalia, who had spent 7.5 years in jail facing charges of double murder.

Justice Bharati Dangre, presiding over the case, made a noteworthy observation during the bail hearing. She stated that undertrial prisoners who have been incarcerated for an extended period should ordinarily be released on bail, regardless of the seriousness of the accusations against them. This decision was based on the belief that depriving individuals of their personal liberty without ensuring a speedy trial contradicts Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty.

The bail application in question was connected to a case involving gangster Kisan Pardeshi and his associates, including Akash Chandalia. The group faced charges of kidnapping, assault, and murder related to an incident in July 2015. It was alleged that they had injured two individuals who later succumbed to their injuries, and their bodies were subsequently recovered.

During the bail application, Chandalia pointed out that two co-accused individuals, Vikas Gaikwad and Yasmin Sayyed, had already been granted bail in 2022 due to trial delays. Justice Dangre noted that since the delay in trial had led to the release of these co-accused, there was no reason why Chandalia could not be granted bail as well.

The judge’s ruling underscores the idea that while the gravity of an offense and its heinous nature are factors to be considered when granting bail, the extended incarceration of an accused as an undertrial prisoner should also carry significant weight in the decision-making process. Justice Dangre’s decision aligns with the principle that individuals should not be made to endure prolonged imprisonment without the prospect of a timely trial.

This ruling by the Bombay High Court sets an important precedent, highlighting the need for a balanced approach in bail decisions, particularly for undertrial prisoners who have spent a considerable amount of time in custody. It emphasizes the significance of protecting the fundamental right to liberty guaranteed by the Constitution and ensuring that justice is not delayed to the detriment of individuals awaiting trial.

In summary, the Bombay High Court’s decision in the Akash Chandalia case reaffirms the importance of safeguarding personal liberty and conducting trials in a timely manner. It recognizes that extended periods of undertrial incarceration should be a compelling factor in bail considerations, irrespective of the seriousness of the charges.

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