What is meant by 'Bail is the rule, jail is an exception' in the Indian judiciary?

Asked 14-Mar-2023
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What is meant by 'Bail is the rule, jail is an exception' in the Indian judiciary?


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"Bail is the rule, jail is an exception" is a legal principle followed in the Indian judiciary, which emphasizes that an accused person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty and should not be detained in custody unless it is absolutely necessary for the investigation or trial. This principle ensures that the fundamental rights of an accused person are protected and that they are not subjected to arbitrary or unjustified detention.

In other words, the Indian judiciary leans towards granting bail to an accused person, unless there are specific and compelling reasons to keep them in custody. The idea is to ensure that the accused person's liberty is not unduly restricted and that they are not subjected to punishment before they have been proven guilty.

The principle of "Bail is the rule, jail is an exception" is enshrined in the Indian Constitution under Article 21, which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty. The courts in India interpret this right broadly to include the right to bail, as being deprived of liberty can have a severe impact on an individual's life and liberty.

However, bail is not an absolute right, and the courts must balance the interests of the accused with those of the society at large. The courts will consider various factors, such as the seriousness of the offence, the strength of the evidence, the likelihood of the accused fleeing from justice, and the potential danger they pose to society, before granting bail.

Additionally, in cases where the accused is charged with a non-bailable offence, such as murder or rape, they have to provide reasonable grounds for their release on bail, which can be challenging.

In summary, the principle of "Bail is the rule, jail is an exception" reflects the fundamental belief in the Indian judiciary that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty and that their liberty should not be unduly restricted. While bail is not an absolute right, the courts will lean towards granting bail unless there are compelling reasons to keep the accused in custody. This principle is essential in safeguarding the rights of an accused person and ensuring that justice is done fairly and impartially.