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Personal liberty of accused or convict fundamental, insists Kerala HC

Personal liberty of accused or convict fundamental, insists Kerala HC

Kochi: The Kerala High Court granted bail to three forest officials who are facing charges of custodial torture and said the personal liberty of an accused or convict is fundamental.

"After all, the object of bail is neither punitive nor preventative. Deprivation of liberty must be considered a punishment unless it is required to ensure that an accused will stand his trial when called upon," said the court.

An Indian Forest Service (IFS) couple and a forest department officer, Vijayananthan are charged with torturing an accused in the Idamalayar elephant poaching case. The court asserted that the issue of bail is one of liberty, justice, and public safety which insists that a developed jurisprudence of bail is integral to a socially sensitized judicial process.

The case was registered in 2016.

The accused told a doctor he was assaulted by forest officials in custody but did not mention the torture before the magistrate nor the doctor who had examined him initially. The Human Rights Commission asked for the case to be registered. The forest officials argued that the accused is attempting to derail the case.

Addressing the bail plea, the High Court said: "The materials made available lead this court to the conclusion that the petitioners (officers) could establish a prima facie case for getting the benefits contained in section 438 of the CrPC. The petitioners (officers) shall be released on bail, in the event of their arrest, on their executing bond for ₹ 1,00,000.. each with two solvent sureties each for the like sum."

The bench added that the principle that bail is the rule and jail is the exception was recognised in many judicial pronouncements. The forest officials are instructed to appear before the investigating officer as and when required. They are also ordered not to influence the witnesses or tamper with the evidence.

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TAGS:Kerala High Court poaching forest official 
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