Bail for women – 07 Mar 2023

Providing bail would equally help reduce prison populations and in some cases speed up the legal process

It is a welcome judgment by the Supreme Court that women accused of offences, which are otherwise held to be non-bailable under the relevant laws, are to be granted bail as per rule. This rule also applies to disabled and those under 16 years of age. Only under exceptional circumstances can bail be rejected. The judgment came as the top court was dealing with an appeal against rejection of bail plea by a maid arrested for house robbery.

The decision to grant bail to the woman will indeed set a precedence for future cases dealing with such an issue, especially at the lower courts where non-bailable offences are treated without any exception. Such judgments are important for clarification of nuisances present in the law and help strengthen the legal system as oftentimes influential people seek to use their power to suppress their opposition by taking advantage of legal loopholes and vague laws. Apart from that, it will also go a long way in protecting accused women and juveniles who eventually spend a long time languishing in jails for petty crimes or acts they haven’t even committed.

Pakistan has a weak penal system and jails across the country are overcrowded as thousands of cases remain pending in courts. The situation doesn’t just affect the lives of prisoners, who are not provided with proper food or sanitation, but it also uses up whatever little resources these jails have. Therefore, providing bail would equally help reduce prison populations and in some cases speed up the legal process. While the court must ensure justice is served, it also has to be cognizant of the rights of prisoners and the specific situation that each case presents. The judgment will urge judges to consider expectational circumstances, such as the probability of crime reoccurring, in each case.

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