Chief Justice DY Chandrachud on Saturday said that the trend of the “bail is the rule, and jail is the exception” principle losing ground in district courts needs thorough evaluation, Bar and Bench reported.

The chief justice said that why the district courts seem to be hesitant in granting bail and uphold the personal liberty of the citizens needs to be examined.

“There is a rising apprehension that there is restrain in district courts in matters concerning personal liberty,” Bar and Bench quoted Chandrachud as saying at the Judicial Officers Conclave at Kachchh, Gujarat. “Bail is the rule is losing ground in district courts and this trend needs thorough evaluation and all district judges must tell me why this trend is emerging.”

In November 2022, the chief justice had said that there is a “sense of fear” among district judges that they may be targeted for granting bail in heinous cases. He had said this fear needs to be addressed, otherwise, the trial courts would be rendered “toothless” and the higher courts “dysfunctional” because of a barrage of pending bail applications.

Even though bail is supposed to be the rule and jail is an exception, this principle is not followed in practice. Courts, especially trial courts, are slow to grant bail, resulting in three out of every four prisoners being undertrials.

On Saturday, Chandrachud said that the district judiciary has to constantly evolve so that the citizens’ faith is maintained.

Chandrachud said that the culture of adjournments and pendency of cases has become normalised and is perceived by the common man as part of the judicial process, Bar and Bench reported.

“Often, legal decisions do not emerge during the lifetime of farmers,” he said. “We should not wait for our citizens to die waiting for a judicial result.”

The chief justice also raised the problems faced by the lower judiciary in the country and called for developing the infrastructure of the district judiciary so that there are proper courtrooms. “Many courts suffer overcrowding and delay in case filings,” he said.

Chandrachud also talked about the lack of facilities available to women in courts, including a lack of adequate washrooms and sanitary vending machines.

Also read: ‘Jail is rule’: Why did a recent Supreme Court order break the liberal trend in UAPA bail cases?