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Amended Bail Bill passed
The Government secured passage of the controversial Bail (Amendment) Bill after major amendments during yesterday’s five-hour marathon session of the Committee Stage. The Government agreed to amend a major provision regarding the denial of bail clause. Seven Independents voted with the Government while two voted with the six Opposition senators against the measure. Independent senator Subhas Ramkhelawan, who voted with the Government said he supported the bill after the amendment was made.
The bill was presented by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. Ramkhelawan said under the original bill, someone with a previous conviction would be denied bail for 120 days. He said the legislation was not clear on what would have happened after that period had expired. He said if evidence was brought with that period, what happened after was not clear on whether the accused could seek bail before a judge or not.
He said the intent of the legislation as was brought originally suggested that bail would not be granted until the matter was completely decided. “The main concern was that somebody could be charged and be held in custody for five or seven years or however long it takes for the matter to be determined,” Ramkhewlawan said in an interview last night. “That was seen by many senators to be too onerous a burden on any citizen.
“There was some negotiation and the maximum amount of time somebody can be held on a charge without bail was one year.” He said that means if the matter was not heard and completed within one year, then that person would be entitled to bail before a judge. Ramkhelawan said that was the main area of contention and once that matter was settled, a number of senators accepted the bill with some other changes.