Supreme Court Asserts: Political Activity Cannot Be Curtailed Through Bail Conditions

Mainstream
26-Mar-2024
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The Supreme Court recently underscored the importance of upholding fundamental rights by setting aside a bail condition imposed by the Orissa High Court that prohibited a politician from engaging in political activities. In the case of Siba Shankar Das vs State of Odisha and another, a bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta held that such a condition would violate the appellant's fundamental rights.

The petitioner, Siba Shankar Das, a leader of the Odisha Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and former mayor of Berhampur, had several criminal cases against him after switching parties from the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). He approached the apex court after the Orissa High Court, while granting him bail in August 2022, imposed a condition barring him from engaging in any political activities.

The Supreme Court, in its order issued on March 22, ruled that such a condition encroached upon the fundamental rights of the appellant. The bench quashed and set aside the condition, emphasizing that restrictions on political activities as a condition for bail are impermissible.

Advocate Suresh Chandra Tripathy represented the accused in the case, while Advocates Som Raj Choudhury, Shrutee Aradhana, and Prashant Kumar appeared for the Odisha government.

This ruling by the Supreme Court reaffirms the principle that political activity cannot be curtailed through bail conditions, upholding the right to freedom of expression and association enshrined in the Constitution. It also serves as a reminder of the judiciary's role in safeguarding fundamental rights, particularly in cases involving political figures.

Notably, this decision echoes a previous ruling by the Supreme Court in November, where it overturned a similar bail condition imposed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court on former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. In that case, the High Court had prohibited Naidu from participating in public rallies and meetings, a directive that was subsequently lifted by the apex court.

Author: Anushka Taraniya

News Writer, MIT ADT University