Former Chief Justice of India UU Lalit said on Monday that arrests made without reason are burdening the judicial system, PTI reported.

Lalit made the remarks while speaking on “Making Criminal Justice Effective” at the Justice (retired) KT Desai Memorial lecture at Bombay High Court.

The former chief justice said that in recent times, arrests are being made as a matter of course, frequently and without adequate reason.

“Arrests are made without even seeing if it is required or actually needed,” he said. “Civil disputes are projected as criminal matters and this puts a burden on the judicial system.”

Lalit said that in most cases, magistrates remand accused persons in a mechanical manner, according to Live Law.

“It is only after a Magistrate is satisfied that a remand can be granted,” he said. “Most of the time, what we see is that it is a mechanical exercise by the Magistrates. I have never seen where a Magistrate has asked question to the investigator ‘what further investigation needed?’”

Lalit, who retired as the chief justice of India on November 8, also said that about 80% of the jail population comprises undertrials. He also said that the conviction rate in the country is currently 27%.

The former chief justice also said that there is a need for an investigative agency that is “completely independent” and professional. He such that such an agency “must be completely adept to scientific methodology, must be completely well versed in methods of investigation”.

Meanwhile, Bombay High Court Chief Justice Dipankar Datta, emphasised that bail is the rule and jail is the exception in criminal cases, according to PTI. He cited the example of activist Gautam Navlakha, who has been granted house arrest.

Navlakha has been accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, which pertains to caste violence in a village near Pune in 2018. He was among 16 people arrested for allegedly plotting the violence.

He was released from the Taloja Jail in Navi Mumbai and placed under house arrest on November 19. The Supreme Court had allowed his petition for house arrest on November 10.