Ayyan Ali’s recent release on bail has received extensive media coverage. For many, the fact that she has eventually been granted bail is not surprising in a society where alleged criminals tend to be granted bail for more heinous (and yet bailable) criminal offences. However, the fact that her release on bail is being widely viewed as some sort of acquittal is misleading and incorrect.
There seems to be a general perception that once an alleged offender has been released from prison on bail it implies that the case against such individual is either weak and lacks evidence or the prosecution has lost interest in the matter. This is not necessarily correct.
We need to understand that in relation to bailable offences the Courts have the discretion to grant bail (subject to certain conditions and in certain circumstances) and this does not imply acquittal. A person released on bail can be arrested again and still needs to stand trial and prove his/her innocence or otherwise face the consequences.
The delays in our justice system and the increasing backlog of cases are perhaps to blame for the above mentioned perception. Although every attempt should be made to ensure that an innocent person doesn’t spend any time behind bars and the principle of innocent until proven guilty prevails, however, the Courts should exercise the right to grant bail with caution in cases where there is clear evidence of wrong doing (e.g. in cases where the alleged culprit is arrested red-handed).