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SC says open for courts to order house arrest of accused in select cases
Concerned with the overcrowding of jails, the Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that it will be open for the courts to consider ordering house arrest of accused under provision of Criminal Procedure Code. The top court said that regarding post-conviction cases, it is leaving it open to the legislature to ponder over employment of house arrest to the accused in select cases.
Referring to overcrowding in jails and the cost to the state in maintaining of prisons, the top court said the concept of house arrest be adopted.
A bench of Justices UU Lalit and K M Joseph said, “…we may indicate criteria like age, health condition and the antecedents of the accused, the nature of the crime, the need for other forms of custody and the ability to enforce the terms of the house arrest. We observe that under Section 167 (of CrpC) in appropriate cases it will be open to courts to order house arrest”.
It said that “we would also indicate under Section 309 also that judicial custody being custody ordered, subject to following the criteria; the courts will be free to employ it in deserving and suitable cases”.
The top court’s verdict came on a plea of activist Gautam Navlakha challenging the Bombay High Court order denying him default bail on the ground that charge sheet was not filed by the NIA within a stipulated time under the law.
It said that the house arrest has been employed in the United States essentially as an intermediate level penal sanction and upon being found guilty instead of sentencing the convict to a term in prison and in lieu of incarceration, as a condition of probation, the convict is compelled to confine himself to his place of residence.
It said that among the advantages which have been perceived in promoting the house arrest, have been avoidance of overcrowding of the prisons and also cost saving.
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