'Bail The Exception, Jail The Rule Under UAPA' : Supreme Court Expounds Tests To Grant Bail In UAPA Cases

Author : Nimisha Nayak

Updated On : February 14, 2024

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In a landmark ruling that has stirred the waters of judicial discretion, the Supreme Court has introduced stringent standards for granting bail under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), marking a significant shift in legal proceedings related to terrorism and national security. This decision underscores the principle that "bail is the unusual, and incarceration the rule" in the context of UAPA cases, setting a new precedent in the balance between safeguarding national interests and upholding constitutional rights.

On February 7, the Supreme Court refused to grant bail to an individual linked to a Khalistani terror organization, charged under the stringent UAPA. The court underscored that delays in trial proceedings could not justify the granting of bail in cases involving heinous offenses. According to the judgment, bail should be denied as a "rule" if, upon reviewing the final report or Case Diary and after hearing the public prosecutor, the court believes the accusations hold prima facie truth. This introduces a rigorous initial hurdle for accused individuals seeking bail under the UAPA.

Furthermore, the court detailed a two-step procedure for handling bail requests under the UAPA. Initially, it examined Section 43D(5) of the UAPA, which restricts bail for offenses under Chapters IV and VI, going beyond the general provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This section mandates that a Special Court cannot release an accused on bail without allowing the Public Prosecutor to present their arguments, highlighting the unique approach towards bail under the UAPA.

The Supreme Court's judgment also emphasizes the "tripod test" - assessing the risk of the accused fleeing, influencing witnesses, or tampering with evidence - as secondary criteria if the initial ground for bail denial is not met. It elaborates that various factors, including the nature of the offense, the severity of the potential sentence, and the accused's background, should influence this assessment.

Key points highlighted in the judgment include the interpretation of "prima facie true," the level of satisfaction required after charges are filed, and the avoidance of detailed scrutiny of the merits or demerits of evidence at the bail stage. It also stressed the importance of considering the investigating agency's evidence presented with the charge sheet and case diary holistically, without dissecting it piecemeal. Documentary evidence is to be presumed true, with its admissibility not questioned during bail hearings, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of evidence before deciding on bail.

This ruling by the Supreme Court sets forth a nuanced framework for bail considerations in UAPA cases, aiming to meticulously balance the imperatives of national security against the fundamental rights of individuals. As the legal landscape navigates through these judicial intricacies, the Supreme Court's criteria for bail under the UAPA act as pivotal indicators for the evolving jurisprudence in terrorism and national security-related offenses, ensuring that justice is both served and perceived to be served.

'Bail The Exception, Jail The Rule Under UAPA' : Supreme Court Expounds Tests To Grant Bail In UAPA Cases

Author : Nimisha Nayak

February 14, 2024

SHARE

In a landmark ruling that has stirred the waters of judicial discretion, the Supreme Court has introduced stringent standards for granting bail under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), marking a significant shift in legal proceedings related to terrorism and national security. This decision underscores the principle that "bail is the unusual, and incarceration the rule" in the context of UAPA cases, setting a new precedent in the balance between safeguarding national interests and upholding constitutional rights.

On February 7, the Supreme Court refused to grant bail to an individual linked to a Khalistani terror organization, charged under the stringent UAPA. The court underscored that delays in trial proceedings could not justify the granting of bail in cases involving heinous offenses. According to the judgment, bail should be denied as a "rule" if, upon reviewing the final report or Case Diary and after hearing the public prosecutor, the court believes the accusations hold prima facie truth. This introduces a rigorous initial hurdle for accused individuals seeking bail under the UAPA.

Furthermore, the court detailed a two-step procedure for handling bail requests under the UAPA. Initially, it examined Section 43D(5) of the UAPA, which restricts bail for offenses under Chapters IV and VI, going beyond the general provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). This section mandates that a Special Court cannot release an accused on bail without allowing the Public Prosecutor to present their arguments, highlighting the unique approach towards bail under the UAPA.

The Supreme Court's judgment also emphasizes the "tripod test" - assessing the risk of the accused fleeing, influencing witnesses, or tampering with evidence - as secondary criteria if the initial ground for bail denial is not met. It elaborates that various factors, including the nature of the offense, the severity of the potential sentence, and the accused's background, should influence this assessment.

Key points highlighted in the judgment include the interpretation of "prima facie true," the level of satisfaction required after charges are filed, and the avoidance of detailed scrutiny of the merits or demerits of evidence at the bail stage. It also stressed the importance of considering the investigating agency's evidence presented with the charge sheet and case diary holistically, without dissecting it piecemeal. Documentary evidence is to be presumed true, with its admissibility not questioned during bail hearings, ensuring a comprehensive evaluation of evidence before deciding on bail.

This ruling by the Supreme Court sets forth a nuanced framework for bail considerations in UAPA cases, aiming to meticulously balance the imperatives of national security against the fundamental rights of individuals. As the legal landscape navigates through these judicial intricacies, the Supreme Court's criteria for bail under the UAPA act as pivotal indicators for the evolving jurisprudence in terrorism and national security-related offenses, ensuring that justice is both served and perceived to be served.

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