Supreme Court Upholds Bail Rights in Shoma Sen Case, Affirms K.A. Najeeb Precedent

Supreme Court, in Shoma Sen case, reaffirms bail rights, upholding K.A. Najeeb precedent. Justices assert accused's Article 21 right, emphasizing proportionate pre-trial detention.

In the Shoma Sen case, the Supreme Court, on April 5, emphasized that its decision in Gurwinder Singh v. State of Punjab wouldn't disrupt the principles established in the landmark case of Union of India vs. K.A. Najeeb.

K.A. Najeeb's case, presided over by Justices NV Ramana, Surya Kant, and Aniruddha Bose, provided relief to individuals accused under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act 1967 (UAPA). Despite UAPA's bail restrictions, the court asserted that constitutional courts could grant bail to uphold the accused's right to a speedy trial under Article 21.

However, in Gurwinder Singh's Case, the Division bench of Justices MM Sundresh and Aravind Kumar, on February 8, held that mere trial delay wasn't sufficient grounds for bail in serious offenses. They distinguished Najeeb's case, highlighting that Najeeb had already served over five years in prison, and granted him bail.

In the Shoma Sen case, Justices Aniruddha Bose and Augustine George Masih reiterated the legal stance. They clarified that Gurwinder Singh's case didn't alter the principles established in K.A. Najeeb's case.

Granting bail to former Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen in the Bhima Koregaon case, Justice Bose's significant judgment, running around fifty pages, emphasized this point.

Opposing Sen's bail plea, ASG KM Natraj argued that “bail is not a fundamental right,” citing Gurwinder Singh's Case. However, the court disagreed, affirming the accused's bail rights under Article 21.

The Court stated, “We do not accept the first part of this submission. This Court has already accepted right of an accused under the said offences of the 1967 Act to be enlarged on bail founding such right on Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

Furthermore, the Court clarified, "He cited the case of Gurwinder Singh (supra) in which the judgment of K. A. Najeeb (supra) was distinguished on facts and a judgment of the High Court rejecting the prayer for bail of the appellant was upheld. But this was a judgment in the given facts of that case and did not dislocate the axis of reasoning on constitutional ground enunciated in the case of Najeeb (supra)."

While emphasizing the importance of pre-conviction detention for evidence collection, the Court also noted that depriving someone of liberty must be proportionate. Any deprivation of liberty must be reasonable, following a just and fair procedure, and proportionate to the case's circumstances.

“Any form of deprivation of liberty results in breach of Article 21 of the Constitution of India and must be justified on the ground of being reasonable, following a just and fair procedure, and such deprivation must be proportionate in the facts of a given case,” the Court added.