Monday, June 26, 2017

High court pulls up officials, elected representatives for interfering in bail matters

The Gujarat high court on Friday castigated the government and public office-bearers for the practice of issuing certificates advocating prisoners' bail and warned them not to interfere with the functioning of the court.
A bench of Justice Abhilasha Kumari and Justice A J Shastri termed advocating prisoners' bail on temporary basis — by elected representatives and revenue officials at the village level — as a 'disease, which needs to be eradicated'. In the line of fire were a talati-cum-mantri of Mota Vadodar village of Lunavada taluka in Mahisagar district, a woman sarpanch of Samli village in Panchmahal district and a councillor of Bharuch municipality.

A murder accused, Babubhai Vankar, obtained a letter recommending the extension of the bail period from the woman sarpanch. Since the sarpanch is illiterate, her husband issued a letter advocating more time in prisoner's freedom. The judges made it clear that the high court does not need any recommendation from public in judicial work. The court did not grant any relief to prisoners and deprecated the practice of such recommendation by office-bearers, calling it "overstepping the limit of their power".
The court took the letter issued by Bharuch councillor Babubhai Vasava very seriously and observed that there is a direct nexus between elected representatives and prisoners in jail. The bench directed the secretary of urban development and urban housing department to issue appropriate notification/guidelines to curb the malpractice.

The high court said that a councillor's duty was to monitor civil and public works and said a councillor was not authorized to issue certificates to convicts. The high court further observed that the gesture of issuing such a letter is not only beyond the scope of the duties of a councillor, but it "constitutes a direct interference in the judicial functions of the court." The court went on to say: "The court does not need recommendations from any elected personality in order to perform its judicial functions. Further, it reveals the direct nexus between such elected representatives and convicted persons, who are serving sentence in jail."

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