The Supreme Court has asked the Union government if it is considering introducing a new bail law in accordance with the court’s 2022 judgement, Live Law reported on Friday.

In its 2022 judgement, the Supreme Court asked the Centre to consider a new law for bail and said that courts should decide on bail petitions within two weeks, except in cases where the law provides otherwise, according to Bar and Bench.

During a hearing earlier this month, a bench comprising Justices MM Sundresh and SVN Bhatti asked the Centre to inform the top court if any assessment has been done to ascertain the requirement for special courts (Central Bureau of Investigation) in districts where the volume of pending cases is high.

The Supreme Court gave the Centre eight weeks to respond.

2022 judgment

While hearing a matter related to the arrest of a man by the Central Bureau of Investigation, a bench comprising Sundresh and Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, who has since retired, said in July 2022 that there was a pressing need for introducing an Act specifically meant for granting bails, reported PTI.

“Our belief is also for the reason that the Code of Criminal Procedure as it exists today is a continuation of the pre-independence one with its modifications,” the bench had said. “We hope and trust that the Government of India would look into the suggestion made in right earnest.”

It also noted that jails in the country are packed with undertrials and a majority of them may not even be required to be arrested.

The bench had observed that in the United Kingdom and many states in the United States, there are specific laws that lay down guidelines for arrests and grant of bail. There is a “pressing need” for a similar law in India, it said, to bring “uniformity and certainty” in the decision-making process of the court.

It also stated that the rate of conviction in criminal cases is abysmally low in India. The court stated that it is the responsibility of an investigating agency to expedite the probe as the accused often ends up languishing in jail.

“Thus, a duty is enjoined upon the agency to complete the investigation within the time prescribed and a failure would enable the release of the accused,” said the bench. “The right enshrined is an absolute and indefeasible one.”

The Supreme Court had then directed the High Courts to find out the undertrial prisoners who are unable to comply with the bail conditions so that appropriate steps under the law can be taken for their release.

It had said that while the bail applications should be disposed of within two weeks except when provisions mandate otherwise, pleas for anticipatory bail should be decided within six weeks.

Also read: India’s judiciary wants a new bail law – but wouldn’t implementing existing rules do the job anyway?