Custody not a substitute for conviction: Top court

The state can’t use its would possibly to place somebody behind the bars as a substitute for closing conviction, the Supreme Court noticed on Tuesday, expressing concern over what it termed a “growing trend”.

The commentary got here in the midst of an attention-grabbing listening to on a level of regulation — when does the 60-day window for submitting a charge-sheet as laid down by the Code of Criminal Procedure begin, on the day the accused are remanded to custody or the day after?

A bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy was vital of the “new philosophy” utilized by the police and the prosecution to try to hold individuals in jail a minimum of for a few days as a type of punishment previous to proving their guilt.

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“Putting someone behind bars cannot be a substitute for final conviction. Ultimately, the philosophy now seems to have become, “let us keep someone behind bars at least for some days even if there is no conviction in the end”. The state can’t use its would possibly like this,” noticed the bench.

It additionally commented on the independence of investigating businesses, regretting that these working in these businesses had been not adequately assessing the sorts of instances that ought to actually go to trial since they had been additionally influenced by a number of different elements.

“In true sense, an independent agency, which is supposed to take a call on what should go to trial and what not, is also influenced by several other things… some {officers} are more interested about what after retirement for them,” remarked the bench.

It added: “If every case goes to a trial, the real time to examine most serious cases is reduced. Corruption cases and CBI {Central Bureau of Investigation} cases take the longest. And the person who is being convicted after 20 years, will tell us I am 70 now, don’t send me to jail. All this needs to be corrected.”

The bench additionally puzzled if the federal government carried out any “legislative impact assessment” earlier than making bounced cheques and visitors violations crimes to be tried by the courts.

“These are institutional issues that nobody thinks of. Our good old jurisprudence on criminal laws, bail etc have been thrown away,” rued the court.

The feedback by the apex court got here when the court was listening to bail pleas of Dewan Housing Finance Corporation (DHFL) promoters Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhwan, who’ve been jailed in a money laundering case registered towards them by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

According to CBI and ED, Yes Bank invested round 3,700 crore in short-term non-convertible debentures of DHFL between April and June 2018 as a quid professional quo between Yes Bank’s co-promoter Rana Kapoor and the Wadhawans. The Wadhawans have been in jail since March final year.

Senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Amit Desai appeared for the Wadhawans whereas further solicitor common SV Raju represented ED within the case.

In September 2020, SC stayed an order by the Bombay excessive court that granted bail to the Wadhawans on the grounds that ED did not file a charge-sheet within the matter inside the 60-day window as stipulated by the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).

Raju, for ED, argued that there was no expiry of the time for the reason that day on which an accused was remanded ought to be excluded whereas calculating the 60-day interval. Raju confirmed a judgment of a three-judge bench of the SC to buttress his level.

The counsel for Wadhawans additionally offered two different judgments of three-judge benches of the SC to contend that the 60-day interval would begin from the day on which accused are remanded to custody.

Citing this “legal conundrum” arising out of contradictory judgments by the SC, the bench mentioned: “We hear more SLPs (special leave petitions) than anything else. There is no time for laying down laws and to settle laws. If we, in the Supreme Court, are facing such a conundrum, think of high courts and magisterial courts. They will have more of a predicament and they can choose one out of many of our judgments on the same point.”

The bench then determined to refer this case to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) for establishing a bench of a minimum of three and ideally 5 judges for an authoritative ruling on the purpose of regulation.

It additionally mentioned the court order would request the CJI to have the Wadhawans’ plea for bail urgently listed earlier than a three-judge bench.

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