You would have to be very hard of heart to feel no emotional relief over this celeb kid, Aryan Khan going home after 25 days of incarcerated agony. But with the relief comes trepidation. The 14 clauses pertaining to the bail and its threat of revocation if even one is broken or seen to be broken are draconian. By no means is Aryan a free man. The bail provisions extend to movement, contact, entertainment, travel, speech, conduct, you name it and it is open to ugly interpretation.
Technically, the stress really starts now. For the last four weeks, there was a goal, an intent, something to achieve and that was getting bail. Now, the Khan family is vulnerable to multiple summonses, to months, even years of torturous procedures and no goal in sight because the way the system works is open-ended.
Ask Salman Khan. The blackbuck he shot would have died of old age and natural causes before his case was ended. Don’t even ask Sanjay Dutt in case he breaks down.
My colleague has aged ten years in one. He went home to India on leave to find someone had filed a case against him. The innocence and guilt are irrelevant. For two years now, his passport has been impounded, he cannot leave the country, the court dates are delayed, the progress is at snail’s pace and the sense of helplessness is compounded by the costs of the legal battle. He has lost his job. His livelihood is laughable. He has sold his house, his car, and his family is marooned in another country and this could go on sans relief for years.
It gets to the point where even the ring of the phone jangles the nerves. Our system is predicated to grand delay and joyful harassment by summons to lower courts and cop stations and the exhausting waits are all on the cards.
Every Thursday night, Aryan Khan will prepare to visit the NCB quarters to mark his haazri come Friday. Since they are the adversaries, they can waffle all day, pull your chain, make you wait as long as they, wish. They can send you odd forms to fill. They can call you to co-operate (an all-encompassing label) by demanding your presence to clarify any silly aspect of the case. That is when you realise your life is no longer your own and you are captive to the legal system.
Take a look at some of the limitations placed on his conduct:
- If he talks to Arbaaz or any of the co-accused even on the phone, it is an infraction of the conditions.
- He cannot go to Lonavala or Khandala without permission, forget about travelling abroad.
- He cannot talk to the media or make any statement to defend himself.
- He is at the beck and call of the police and can be imposed upon at any time of the day or night because of any new evidence.
The Damoclean sword is blunt in comparison to these stringent bail codicils. And all this is while you are legally innocent since you haven’t been proven guilty.
Are these standard restrictions? Actually, this aspect is open to generous interpretation. The court has the power to cancel the bail even at a later stage. This power is available to the court under Sections 437(5) and 439(2) of Cr PC.
By recording reasons, the court can cancel the bail granted by it and give direction to the police to arrest the person. It is scary and kind of stays on the other side of the net from Section 437 which states the accused cannot be subjected to any condition which is not pragmatic and is unfair.
It is the duty of the court to ensure that the condition imposed on the accused is in consonance with the intendment and provisions of the sections and not onerous.
Love the word onerous, except that this is all sentiment on paper. The reality is harsh.
According to a report by Singh and Associates: The primary objective of the provisions providing for the bail should not be to detain and arrest an accused person but to ensure his appearance at the time of trial and to make sure if the accused is held guilty, he is available to suffer the consequence of the offence as such committed, in terms of punishment in accordance with the law. It would be unjust and unfair to deprive the alleged accused of his liberty during the pendency of the criminal proceeding against him. The release on bail upon appropriate considerations and imposition of reasonable conditions is significant not only to the accused, and his family members who might be dependent upon him but also to the society at large, hence the Court is duty-bound to contemplate the facts and circumstances prevailing in the matter and strike a balance between considerations and imposition of the reasonable conditions and then pass the appropriate order.
In any civilized society, being given bail while ensuring your presence at trial should not infringe your liberties. That is what the bond is for. He should be allowed to move freely, earn his living and mix with his peers. Not be placed under house arrest.
The Khans would do well to move the judiciary to throw the case out before young Aryan Khan becomes a hostage to the system… ask my friend who has now become a husk of what he was, beaten down step by step… with none to do him any reverence.