National Security Can’t be Bogey to Keep Someone in Jail Indefinitely, Says SC in Cattle Smuggling Case


The Supreme Court has said no person can be kept in jail indefinitely with an open-ended probe by agencies on a conjectural apprehension that their activities could involve a larger conspiracy which may prove detrimental to national security.

Laying emphasis on the “bail, not jail” philosophy, the observation was made by a bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Dinesh Maheshwari while granting bail to Md Enamul Haque, the alleged prime accused in the trans-border cattle smuggling case.

The central agency had also arrested a BSF commandant for his alleged involvement in the smuggling activities, proceeds of which were allegedly paid to political parties and local administration officials, the Times of India reported.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, while appearing for Haque, said the accused BSF commandant and other accused have also been granted bail but the Calcutta High Court had rejected Haque’s bail plea even though he has been in jail for more than one year in an offence which prescribes a maximum punishment of seven years imprisonment.

The CBI, however, argued that the petitioner is the kingpin of a racket and had evaded a look-out notice but surfaced in West Bengal from Bangladesh, thus, indicating collusion by local police and raising a grave concern for national security.

When the agency said probe into a larger conspiracy was pending, Justices Chandrachud and Maheshwari asked, “This open ended investigation is what we do not comprehend. How detaining a person indefinitely will help in probing larger conspiracy when other accused have been granted bail? Is one year and two months, for which he has been in custody, not enough for probing the larger conspiracy?”

The bench granted Haque bail, saying his continued detention was not warranted.

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