New bill to be tabled to deal with bail granting, refusal – AG
As government continues to strengthen the legal and constitutional framework of the country, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, MP, recently announced the imminent tabling of a new bill to address the granting and refusal of bail.
Minister Nandlall noted that the completion of this bill has been expected by different sections of society, as it has brought with it much discussion over the years.
“Bail has long attracted great public sentiments, has excited criticisms, and has been an issue in the public domain for a long time. Persons have complained about the inconsistent grant of bail, as well as the inconsistent refusal of bail,” he explained.
With the current confinement time period set at 72 hours, the proposed amendments will shift the time frame to only 24 hours. This, the minister says, will assist law enforcement, and judicial officials in their overall execution of duties.
“You can only be remanded by a police officer for a serious offence…you don’t have to be remanded…and if that police remands you and you’re not granted bail, within 24 hours you must be taken to a magistrate,” he noted.
“The constitution says the police can detain you for 72 hours. Our experience is that though the police can conclude that investigation in five hours because they have that constitutional coverage, they hold you for 72 hours…this new law imposes an obligation on the police to act with alacrity, and to act with expediency,” Minister Nandlall added.
Moreover, the bill also specifically addresses the conditionalities of bail that magistrates can set.
Minister Nandlall pointed out that these proposed amendments will not take away from the discretion that law enforcement and judicial officials enjoy when granting or refusing bail.
“Like every other discretion, the discretion to grant or refuse bail is not an absolute one, it is not an untrammelled discretion. It is a discretion that must be exercised in accordance with certain principles and must be exercised reasonably,” he said.
The proposals of these new bills, such as the Representation of the People Act Amendment bill, Firearm amendment bill and the Narcotic Substances amendment bill, all play a pivotal role in the PPP/C administration’s mandate of ensuring continuous reform and accountability of the criminal justice system, as outlined in its manifesto.