Individual liberty can't be allowed to create anarchy



New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the personal liberty of an individual, despite being paramount, cannot entitle "notorious characters" to bail to create anarchy in the society.

"It is also to be kept in mind that individual liberty cannot be accentuated to such an extent or elevated to such a high pedestal which would bring in anarchy or disorder in the society.

"The prospect of greater justice requires that law and order should prevail in a civilised milieu," said a bench of justices K S radhakrishnan and Deepak Misra, cancelling the bail granted by the Allahabad High Court to a history sheeter Shiv Raj Singh, involved in over 50 criminal cases.

The apex court cancelled Singh's bail, expressing serious concern over increasing incidents of kidnapping for ransom and revenge in the country.

Singh was arrested for allegedly kidnapping one Bihari Lal and keeping him in illegal custody for eight days before the victim could manage to escape.

Though the sessions court had rejected his bail plea, the high court had granted him bail saying he was already in jail for seven months and ignoring the prosecution's plea that Singh was a "notorious characters" and had 52 criminal cases registered against him.

"The concept of crime in the contextual sense of kidnapping has really undergone a sea change and has really shattered the spine of the orderly society.

"It is almost nauseating to read almost every day about the criminal activities relating to kidnapping and particularly by people who call themselves experts in the said nature of crime.

"We may usefully state that when the citizens are scared to lead a peaceful life and this kind of offences usher in an impediment in establishment of orderly society, the duty of the court becomes more pronounced and the burden is heavy," said Justice Misra, writing the judgement for the bench.

The bench said, "It is clear that though liberty is a greatly cherished value in the life of an individual, it is a controlled and restricted one and no element in the society can act in a manner due to which the life or liberty of others is jeopardised..."

The apex court said there should be proper analysis of the criminal antecedents of a person and societal concern has to be kept in view in dealing with his individual liberty.

"We are absolutely conscious that liberty of a person should not be dealt with lightly for deprivation of liberty of a person has immense impact on the mind of a person.

"Sometimes it causes a sense of vacuum. Needless to emphasise, the sacrosanct of liberty is paramount in a civilised society," it said.

"However, in a democratic body polity which is wedded to the Rule of Law, an individual is expected to grow within the social restrictions sanctioned by the law," said the court.

It added that individual liberty is restricted by larger social interest and its deprivation must have due sanction of the law.

"It is a well-accepted principle that the concept of liberty is not in the realm of absolutism but is a restricted one," the bench said while cancelling Singh's bail and directing him to surrender.

PTI