Criminals not born but made, no criminal beyond redemption: Supreme Court [5.7.2024]

Criminals are not born out but made, the Supreme Court remarked recently as it acknowledged various factors responsible for making the offender commit the crime.

A bench of justices JB Pardiwala and Ujjal Bhuyan made these remarks on July 3 when it was hearing the bail plea of an accused whose trial has been on pause for the last four years.

"Criminals are not born out but made," the top court said. It further added that the human potential in everyone is good and so, never write off any criminal as beyond redemption. "This humanist fundamental is often missed when dealing with delinquents, juvenile and adult," the court said.

"Indeed, every saint has a past and every sinner a future," the court said in its July 3 order.

"When a crime is committed, a variety of factors are responsible for making the offender commit the crime," the court noted in its order and said that "those factors may be social and economic, may be the result of value erosion or parental neglect; may be because of the stress of circumstances; or may be the manifestation of temptations in a milieu of affluence contrasted with indigence or other privations."

These remarks were part of the top court order whereby it granted bail to an accused in connection with a counterfeit currency case.

The man has knocked on the door of the Supreme Court, challenging the Bombay High Court order dated February 5, 2024, by which the High Court declined to release the appellant on bail.

The top court noted appellant since his arrest on February 9 2020 is in custody for the past four years.

"We wonder by what period of time the trial will ultimately conclude," the top court expressed its concern and said that "Article 21 of the Constitution applies irrespective of the nature of the crime."

"However serious a crime may be, an accused has a right to speedy trial as enshrined under the Constitution of India. Over a period of time, the trial courts and the High Courts have forgotten a very well-settled principle of law that bail is not to be withheld as a punishment," the court said.

"If the state or any prosecuting agency, including the court concerned, has no wherewithal to provide or protect the fundamental right of an accused to have a speedy trial as enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution, then the state or any other prosecuting agency should not oppose the plea for bail on the ground that the crime committed is serious," the top court said.

"The right of the accused to have a speedy trial could be said to have been infringed, thereby violating Article 21 of the Constitution," the top court said, and it granted bail to the man with the condition that he shall not leave the limits of Mumbai city and shall mark his presence at the concerned NIA office or police station once every fifteen days.

The man was arrested with a bag containing 1193 counterfeit Indian currency notes of the denomination of Rs 2,000 from Andheri in Mumbai in February 2020. The probe agency alleged that the counterfeit notes were smuggled from Pakistan to Mumbai. The top court noted that two other co-accused in the case were out on bail.

05 Jul 2024