At an event organised by the BCI on November 19 to felicitate the appointment of the 50th Chief Justice of India, Justice Chandrachud highlighted the issue of district judges being pressured concerning bail cases. He threw light on the loopholes of India’s district judiciary, which is essentially accountable to the common people and their will to access justice.
In India, we follow a single-integrated judicial system with a hierarchy in place, starting from the district and other subordinate courts and moving to the high courts and ultimately to the SC. The CJI opined that this does not render the district courts as "subordinate" per se, but rather that they are also equivalent to the High Courts and the Supreme Court. In the view of Justice Chandrachud, the apex court and high courts are getting overwhelmed with huge amounts of bail petitions daily, thus hampering the efficient and speedy disposal of such petitions. Bail can be provided in India only if the following conditions are met: the seriousness of the crime, the nature of the evidence, the accused's relationship to the victim and the witnesses, the likelihood that the accused will evade justice and commit the same crime again, the potential for him to tamper with the witnesses and obstruct the administration of justice, and other factors.
According to him, the judges at the grass-roots level lack the confidence to grant bail to the accused in important or heinous cases as they fear that it might target them in the future. They’ll lose the public's trust and credibility, which will eventually disparage the image of the judiciary in people’s minds. These comments come at a time when the SC has now and then highlighted the doctrine that "bail is the rule and jail is the exception." In the current scenario, various social activists and journalists have been arrested under the UAPA and sedition, thus being repeatedly denied bail.
However, at the same time, the CJI emphasised the fact that a person who grants relief to a person by granting bail by evaluating all the aforementioned grounds shouldn’t be distrusted. There is still much work to be done to enhance the district judiciary's working conditions since it is the first point of interface between the judicial authority and the common citizen. The government must transfer funds to the judiciary to improve its infrastructure and security arrangements.