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Former Union Minister and Congress leader P Chidambaram said today that if the INDIA bloc comes to power at the Centre, it would enact a special law to bring into effect the legal principle established by the Supreme Court that “bail is the rule, and jail is the exception”.

“We are also promising to bring a special law that would say, ‘Bail is the rule, jail is the exception’. it was a great son of Kerala, Justice Krishna who emphasised this law,” Mr Chidambaram said at a press conference here.

“This rule is rarely followed in the lower judiciary, magistrates, and district judges, ultimately, not everybody can go to the Supreme Court to get bail. 65 per cent of the prisoners are under trial; they are not convicts, so why are they in jail? 90 per cent of the undertrials are OBCs, SC and STs; therefore, we would bring a special law: ‘Bail is the rule, jail is the exception’ — everybody after the first 15 days of interrogation by police or the CBI must be granted bail,” he added.

Mr Chidambaram also said that if the INDIA bloc comes to power at the Centre, it will repeal the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the three criminal laws brought by the BJP government.

“We will repeal, amend and review the following sets of laws – CAA 2019 is at the top of the list. The Farmers Produce, Trade and Commerce Promotion of Facilitation Act 2020, the Bharatiya Nyaya (Second) Sanhita that is equivalent to the IPC, the Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita that is the CrPC and the Bharatiya Sakshya (Second) Act that is the Evidence Act,” Mr Chidambaram said while responding to a question by ANI at a press conference here.

“These five will be totally repealed. Then we have eight laws that will be repealed and new laws will be made. Then we have 25 laws, which will be amended and brought on par with the Constitution. So we are absolutely clear that the Citizenship Amendment Act will be repealed,” said Mr Chidambaram, who served as Union Home Minister from 2008 till 2012 under the UPA government.

He also rejected the CPM leaders’ allegation that the Congress leaders were silent on CAA.

“Shashi Tharoor has widely spoken against the CAA and it was widely reported. Priyanka Gandhi said we oppose CAA,” Mr Chidambaram, the chairman of the Congress manifesto committee

Recently, in an election rally, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had alleged that Congress and Rahul Gandhi were silent on CAA, showing the “same mindset” as Sangh Parivar. He further alleged that Kerala unit of the Congress, which initially joined the Left front to oppose the CAA, withdrew on the directions of its national leadership.

The Congress manifesto for 2024 Lok Sabha election under the section, “REVERSING THE DAMAGE” says, “We promise that all anti-people laws passed by the BJP/NDA without proper parliamentary scrutiny and debate, especially those relating to workers, farmers, criminal justice, environment and forests and digital data protection, will be thoroughly reviewed and changed.”

The CAA enables citizenship to undocumented migrants belonging to six non-Muslim communities — Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014 and reduces the period to qualify for citizenship from existing 11 years to five years.