Justice Siddharth Mridul of the Delhi recently delivered a talk on the topic Bail & Jail: The Rule & The Exception at a webinar hosted by Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow (RMLNLU) and Confederation of Alumni for National Law Universities (CAN Foundation)..The other panelists were Madhya Pradesh High Court judge, Justice Atul Sreedharan; Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra; and Vice-Chancellor of RMLNLU, Prof (Dr) SK Bhatnagar. The webinar was moderated by Advocate-on-Record Amit Anand Tiwari and Vidhi Thaker, law clerk and Research Assistant at the Supreme Court of India..In his welcome address, Prof Bhatnagar elaborated on the concept of liberty as enshrined in the Constitution of India. He commented that research on Article 20 has been expanded beyond imagination. 'Liberty' under Article 21 is qualified with the term ‘personal’. This makes it clear that the framers were concerned with physical liberty, Prof Bhatnagar said..Justice Siddharth Mridul began his address by saying that individual rights, bail, and constitutional rights are all interlinked concepts. Tracing the history of bail jurisprudence, he highlighted the struggle between citizens and the executive in the quest to achieve personal liberties. He referred to an ‘Ashokan Rock’ edict on personal liberty and the role of the King. Even in Kautilya's Arthashastra, it was said that only the rule of law can guarantee liberty and security, he stated. .He also described how personal liberty evolved in Britain. The Magna Carta was drafted as a result of conflict between King John and his subjects. The principle of vis-a-voluntatis was prevalent then, as per which the King was the repository of all strength and wisdom and thus, was above law. It was due to these beliefs and principles that King John ran into troubles with his subjects, and as a result of loss on the battlefield, he had to promise his subjects ‘rights’. As a result of this, the great charter came about, said Justice Mridul.The Magna Carta became the foundation for contemporary principles of Parliament and remedies like Habeas Corpus, and gave rights to subjects against illegal imprisonment, Justice Mridul highlighted. .“Log kya kehenge; The moment sedition case is slapped against a person, a judge does not want to give him bail:” Justice Atul Sreedharan.Coming to the Indian context, Justice Mridul talked about the growth of Article 21 of the Constitution which, he said, has been a great enabler for protecting the personal liberties of the citizens of India. Personal liberty is paramount to human dignity, he noted.."The manner in which the right was expanded immediately after independence really laid the foundation for the freedoms we enjoy today. Erudite personalities have been on the bench who have helped in the expansion of this right.".While speaking about personal liberty under the Indian Constitution, Justice Mridul said that the journey of the Indian Constitution began with the Constituent Assembly Debates and that Dr. BR Ambedkar's draft said that life and liberty could not be deprived except by due process of law. He further added that due process did not find a place in the Constitution, but we moved ahead and read due process into Article 21. Justice Mridul also said that the concept of bail as a Constitutional safeguard serves as the end of personal liberty and justice..'"Right to bail today is a Constitutional recognition of personal liberty and an extension of presumption of innocence", Justice Mridul underscored..Justice Sreedharan, in a forthright speech, said that judge are many times reluctant to grant bail to persons accused of the offence of sedition since they are also sub-consciously influenced by the nature of the offence and the public reaction that may follow.He opined that judges are also human beings and when a person is charged of being anti-national, it does weigh in the minds of the judges even if the act of the accused person might have been of giving a speech or an opinion which goes against the ruling establishment of the day..Watch the full webinar below.