Hyderabad, Jun 25 (UNI) Expressing concern over the plight of a large number of undertrials in the country, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan today urged his fellow judges to take a liberal view and grant bails to undertrials not charged with heinous offences.
Justice Balakrishnan, who had scripted a new chapter in jurisprudence by ordering closure of criminal trials against mentally-ill prisoners if their confinement exceeded the maximum punishment they would have undergone if convicted, lamented that in several cases appeals were pending for over 17 to 18 years.
''In the present situation, we have to convert jails into old-age homes,'' he observed, while participating in a seminar here on ''growing crimes-deterrent punishment: search for appropriate theory of punishment.'' He asked his fellow judges to be liberal in granting bails to the accused, who had committed minor offences. Media reports were having an adverse effect on judges in granting of bail, he noted, asking the judges not to be swayed by reports but grant bail based on the merit of each case.
Referring to the problem of wide disparity in judgements delivered in similar cases, the Chief Justice said the National Judicial Academy was evolving guidelines for use of discretion by judges.
In two cases involving the offence of causing grievous hurt with lethal weapons, while one judge awarded life-sentence, another judge gave only six months' imprisonment. Guidelines for judges were necessary to ensure that discretion was exercised by judges in a proper manner, he added.
Opining that death sentence should not be awarded for rape in the first instance, he said he did not agree with the view that more punishment would lead to reduction in crime.
He further called for a system to provide judges with a full history of the offender, including past offences committed by him, so that they could deal with the cases before them in a holistic manner.
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