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Every prisoner has right to apply for bail; access legal aid: Allahabad HC

The Allahabad High Court has said that every prisoner has a fundamental right to file the bail application without delay.

The court granted bail to a person who had been languishing in jail and could not approach the court as he was financially weak and abandoned by his family after his imprisonment.

Making these observations, Justice Ajay Bhanot granted bail to one Anil Gaur aka Sonu, against whom murder case had been registered at police station Neodiya of Jaunpur district and was in jail since December 6, 2017.

According to counsel for the applicant, the applicant was not named in the FIR. There was no direct evidence against the applicant and he had no motive to commit the murder.

At best, it is a case of circumstantial evidence, he contended.

“The failure of justice in the said cases was occasioned by poverty, social exclusion, legal illiteracy, impersonal administration and denial of legal aid. Exactions of poverty are more severe than punishments in law. For them the glorious dawn of the 75th year of Independence has lost the sheen of freedom’s ideals and the substance of the republic’s promise,” observed the court while granting bail to the applicant.

“Injustice is the birthmark of a slave nation. Justice is the birth right of a free people and our constitution says they shall have it,” the court remarked.

The court also took note of the fact that there are several cases where bail applications were filed after inordinate delays because the prisoners did not have access to legal aid.

Taking a note of it, the court further observed, “The courts, too, have a duty to ensure that prisoners appearing in criminal proceedings have access to legal aid. Courts cannot remain mute spectators when legal aid is denied to prisoners in legal proceedings before them.”

As per the applicant, he did not have access to legal aid to file his bail applications in a timely manner before the trial court as well as high court.

The counsel for the applicant submitted that the right of the applicant to legal aid is a fundamental right and is also a statutory right vested in him by the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.

In its decision dated September 12, the high court found that the applicant was in jail since December 6, 2017. He was able to file a bail application before the trial court in 2019, even after a delay of more than one year.

He could approach the high court for bail only in 2022 — three years after the trial court refused him the bail.



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