The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed shock at the Punjab & Haryana not having listed a bail application for more than a year, stating that such delay amounts to infringement of liberty of the accused person (Chunni Lal Gaba v. Assistant Directer, Directorate of Enforcement).
A Division Bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian observed that even during the pandemic, when all courts are making attempts to hear and decide all matter, non-listing of such an application for bail defeats the administration of justice.
“Normally, we do not interfere with an interim order passed by the High Court but we are constrained to pass the present order as we are shocked to see that the bail application under Section 439 CrPC is not being listed for hearing for more than one year,” the Court said.
It, therefore, asked the Registrar General of the High Court bring the order of top court to the notice of the competent authority so as to take remedial measures.
“Under the prevailing pandemic, at least half of the judges should sit on alternative days so that hearing is accorded to the person in distress. Non-listing of application for regular bail, irrespective of seriousness or lack thereof, of the offences attributed to the accused, impinges upon the liberty of the person in custody,” the Court underscored.
The Court was hearing an appeal against an April 29 order of the High Court which had rejected an application for hearing the bail plea filed on January 28, 2020.
The Court expressed its concern that it has been more than one year since the bail application was last listed.
“The accused has a right to hearing of his application for bail. In fact, the denial of hearing is an infringement of right and liberty assured to an accused,” the order said.
The Supreme Court, therefore, asked the High Court to take up the application at an early date, so that the right of hearing of the accused is not taken away.
“We hope that the High Court will be able to take up the application for bail at an early date so that the right of the accused of hearing of application for bail is not taken away by not entertaining such application on the mentioning memo,” the Court said.
While disposing of the petition, the Court directed the Registrar General of the High Court to bring the observations and order to the notice of the competent authority to take remedial steps at the earliest.
Read Order here: