‘Accused can’t be indefinitely kept in jail due to his inability to produce registered surety for reasons beyond his control’: SC

Delhi: In what could be a major relief for thousands of inmates languishing in jails, sheerly because they cannot produce a registered surety, the Supreme Court (SC) in Wasim Ahmed versus the State of West Bengal has ruled that in cases where the accused cannot produce a registered surety “for reasons beyond his control”, that cannot be a ground for the denial of bail.

A vacation bench of SC comprising of Justices Indira Banerjee and Sanjiv Khanna, was hearing a special leave petition filed by Wasim Ahmed, a resident of Nagpur, after the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Calcutta denied him bail due to the absence of registered surety.

Ahmed, in his petition, stated that he is a resident of Nagpur and his mother is critically ill. Thus, he is in no position to produce a registered surety, as ordered by the magistrate. He further added that he needs to urgently go back to his home due to his mother’s condition.

After hearing the petitioner, the bench said, “The short question is whether the petitioner can indefinitely be kept in jail for inability to fulfill the condition of producing a registered surety and that too when he is unable to produce a registered surety for reasons entirely beyond his control. The answer to the aforesaid question necessarily has to be in the negative. We, therefore, deem it appropriate to direct the learned Chief Metropolitan Magistrate concerned to consider modifying the orders dated 10.05.2019 and 08.05.2019 on such appropriate terms as may be deemed necessary, including cash security and / or reliable surety though not registered, without insisting on registered surety.”

Ahmed had directly approach the SC, through a special leave petition, due to a state-wide strike by the advocates in West Bengal.

The SC further ordered the accused to be produced before the Calcutta magistrate and added that if the court room is locked, as alleged, or due to any other reason because of which he (Ahmed) cannot be produced before the magistrate, then he be produced before the High Court on or before October 22, 2019 “for consideration of modification of the bail on appropriate terms.”

The SC then disposed the special leave petition.

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