Need for a Reform in the Bail Law

Editorial Analysis for UPSC - Need for a Reform in the Bail Law

Need for a Reform in the Bail Law


  • Overcrowding in Indian prisons is over 118 percent, while more than 75% of those incarcerated there are still awaiting trials.
  • These harsh facts are frequently used as an example of the severity of the problem facing India’s criminal justice system.
  • In Satender Kumar Antil v. CBI, the Supreme Court of India recently acknowledged the inefficiency of India’s bail system and how it contributed to this issue.


  • The Court observed that little has changed in practise despite repeated recommendations regarding bail law.
  • The Court gave detailed instructions on bail-related statutes, putting emphasis on the need for separate legislation and requiring deadlines for processing bail applications.
  • The ruling stated that “bail not jail” should be the standard and that overcrowding jails with uncharged inmates violates the “presumption of innocence.”
  • It is still necessary to consider why these established standards are respected more in their violation than in their observance.


  • The Court asserted that the absence of the necessity for court-ordered bail would result from the efficient application of safeguards against arbitrary arrest.
  • However, many people who are detained are not covered by these protections, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds who make up the vast bulk of detainees held without charge or trial.
  • For instance, if the police have “reasons to think” that an arrest is necessary to secure the person’s appearance in court, it is justified as “necessary”.
  • Because of their socioeconomic circumstances, migrants, those without assets, and people who have no touch with family are more likely to be arrested than others.
Way Forward:
  • The existing bail system has the incorrect premise that every person who is arrested will be properly connected or have access to properly connected social circles.
  • It is assumed that the possibility of financial loss is required to guarantee the defendant’s appearance in court. Such presumptions have the effect of making the principle of “bail not jail” useless for a sizable part of those who are currently facing charges.
  • A thorough reevaluation of the aforementioned presumptions is essential for any bail system to give relief in an efficient manner.
  • Bail reform is urgently needed, but starting the reform process before you have the empirical groundwork to comprehend and diagnose the issue would be detrimental.


Source The Hindu