Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Subramonium Prasad, J., remarked that,

“…achievement of universal equality before the law requires the tenets of personal liberty to be applicable to all similarly circumstanced individuals and must not be restricted unless according to procedure established by law.”

A petition under Section 439 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 sought interim bail in an FIR registered under Sections 468, 471, 201 of the Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) and Sections 20, 29 of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS).

Background


One Danveer was involved in an illegal interstate supply of drugs to foreigners in various states in India for the purpose of rave parties. Hence raid was conducted. Charas/hasish of total weight 2.210 kgs was found.

In view of the above, the petitioner was arrested, and first bail application was moved by the petitioner before the trial court and the same was dismissed, later the second application was also dismissed. Further, even the third bail application was dismissed.

Petitioner approached this Court by way of interim petition for interim bail. This Court had converted the instant interim bail application into one for regular bail.

Analysis, Law and Decision


High Court referred to the Supreme Court decision in Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee v. Union of India, (1994) 6 SCC 731, wherein the petition had been instituted with the aim to ensure that undertrial prisoners who had been languishing in jail for an extended period of time were granted bail despite the stringency of the provisions for bail under the NDPS Act. The underlying reason for the same was to uphold the right to personal liberty and the right to speedy trial of an undertrial under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

In view of the above Supreme Court decision, it was categorically noted that,

“…where an undertrial accused has been charged with offence(s) under the NDPS Act which is punishable with minimum imprisonment of ten years and a minimum fine of rupees one lakh, then such an undertrial is to be released if he has been in jail for not less than five years.”

Further, the Bench expressed that,

“It is unconscionable to state that the rights guaranteed under Article 21 can be subjected to such arbitrary categorisation and would not apply across the board to all undertrials in NDPS cases who are at the receiving end of inordinate delay in trial.”

High Court opined that the petitioner was entitled to release on account of inordinate delay in trial and prolonged judicial custody.

“Right to speedy trial is an intrinsic part of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

Further, the High Court added that the Courts must remain cognizant of the deleterious impact of drugs on society, it is also important to keep in mind that deprivation of personal liberty without the assurance of speedy trial contravenes the principles enshrined in our Constitution.

The Bench found the present case fit for granting bail, subject to the following conditions:

a)  The Petitioner shall furnish a personal bond in the sum of Rs 1,00,000 with two sureties of the like amount, one of them should be the relative of the Petitioner, to the satisfaction of the Trial Court;

b)  The Petitioner is directed to deposit his passport with the Trial Court.

c)  The Petitioner is directed to reside in Delhi till further orders and the address shall be verified by the learned Trial Court at the time of acceptance of bail bonds.

d)  The Petitioner shall report to the concerned Police Station twice in a week, that is, on every Wednesday and Friday at 10:30 AM, and the Police is directed to release him by 11:00 AM after recording his presence and completion of all the necessary formalities;

e)  The Petitioner shall not leave NCT of Delhi without the prior permission of the trial Court;

f)  The Petitioner is directed to give all his mobile numbers to the Investigating Officer and keep them operational at all times;

g)  The petitioner shall not, directly or indirectly, tamper with evidence or try to influence the witnesses in any manner;

h)  In case it is established that the petitioner has indulged in similar kind of offences or tried to tamper with the evidence, the bail granted to the petitioner shall stand cancelled forthwith.

In view of the above observations, the application was disposed of. [Anil Kumar v. State, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 778, decided on 21-3-2022]


Advocates before the Court:

For the Petitioner:

Mr. Rajinder Singh and Mr. Piyush Gupta, Ms. Himanshi Batheja, Advocates.

For the Respondent:

Mr. Amit Chadha, APP for the State with SI Thakur Singh, PS Special Cell

Chhattisgarh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Sanjay K Agrawal, J., allowed the petition and granted compensation for infringement of right to a speedy trial under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Background

The facts of the case are such that the petitioner herein has filed the instant writ petition stating inter alia that he remained in jail for commission of offence under Sections 420/34 and 120B of Penal Code, 1860 i.e. IPC from 14.5.2012 till the date of delivery of judgment i.e. 08.11.2016 i.e. 4 years, 6 months and 7 days, whereas he has been awarded sentence only for three years for offence under Section 420/34 of the IPC and three years for offence under Section 120B of the IPC and sentences have been directed to run concurrently, as such, it is a clear case where his constitutional right of speedy trial enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India has admittedly been violated and for which he is entitled to appropriate compensation jointly and severally from the respondents.

Submissions

Counsel for the petitioner Ms Reena Singh submitted that that “right to speedy trial” is his fundamental right and on account of non-conclusion of trial within a reasonable time, the petitioner remained in jail for a period more than he has been sentenced now at the conclusion of trial, which is violative of his fundamental right as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and for which, he is entitled for compensation of ₹ 30 lacks for his said illegal detention for about 1 year, 6 months and 8 days jointly and severally from the respondents.

Counsel for the respondents Mr Jitendra Pali submitted that detention of the petitioner was judicial custody in accordance with law and the procedure established by law, as such, the same cannot be termed as illegal detention and the petitioner. It was further submitted that the petitioner is not entitled for any compensation as his fundamental right of speedy trial has not been violated and he remained in judicial custody till the date of judgment for commission of offence which have been found proved by the trial Court.

Mr Prasoon Agrawal (Amicus Curiae) relied on judgment P. Ramchandra Rao v. State of Karnataka, (2002) 4 SCC 578 submitted that “right to speedy trial” is a fundamental right of an accused under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Observations

  1. The court relied on “Common Cause” v. Union of India, (1996) 4 SCC 33 and observed that it has clearly been established that the right to speedy trial in criminal case is valuable and important right of the accused therein and its violation would result in denial of justice and that would result in grave miscarriage of justice.
  2. The Court relied on judgment Nilabati Behera v. State of Orissa, (1993) 2 SCC 746 and wherein it was held ” Award of compensation in a proceeding under Article 32 by the Supreme Court or by the High Court under Article 226 is a remedy available in public law, based on strict liability for contravention of fundamental rights to which the principle of sovereign immunity does not apply, even though it may be available as a defence in private law in an action based on tort. A claim in public law for compensation for contravention of human rights and fundamental freedoms, the protection of which is guaranteed in the Constitution, is an acknowledged remedy for enforcement and protection, of such rights, and such a claim based on strict liability made by resorting to a constitutional remedy provided for the enforcement of a fundamental right is distinct from, and in addition to, the remedy in private law for damages for the tort resulting from the contravention of the fundamental right.”

The Court thus observed that this Court in the exercise of jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India under public law, can consider and grant compensation to the victim(s) who has suffered an infringement of fundamental right i.e. right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

  1. Right to life is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and for its breach or violation, the petitioner is entitled to monetary compensation from the respondents who are responsible for its breach.
  2. The Court relied on judgment Vijay Kumar Gupta v. State, 2008 SCC OnLine Pat 568 has held that detention of a prisoner in custody in excess of the period that he has been sentenced infringes upon his fundamental right to life and liberty and as such, he is entitled for monetary compensation and further held that both the prosecuting authority and Court remained oblivious of his continuous detention for more than a period, the sentence for any of the offence would have carried.

The Court observed that following the principles of law and reverting to the facts of the present case, it is quite vivid that the petitioner remained in jail as undertrial for a period of 4 years, 6 months and 7 days, whereas he has been awarded punishment of 3 years for offences under Section 420/34 and Section 120B of the IPC (separately) and both sentences to run concurrently, as such, he remained in jail in excess (one year and six months) for more than the sentence awarded by concerned trial Magistrate, on account of delay in conducting the trial, despite twice this Court while hearing bail applications on 22.4.2013 and 24.6.2014 directed the trial Magistrate to conclude the trial expeditiously, which was not taken cognizance of by the learned trial Magistrate by which the petitioner continued in jail for a period more than the actual sentence awarded violating the petitioner’s right to speedy trial guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and for which he is entitled for monetary compensation.

Decision

The Court held the petitioner will be entitled for ₹10,400×18=1,87,200/along with 6% interest from today till the date of payment jointly and severally which respondents No.2 and 4 will deposit within a period of 30 days from today.”

 [Nitin Aryan v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 1636, decided on 07-06-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Jammu and Kashmir: In the recent judgment passed by a Single Judge Bench comprising of M.K. Hanjura, J., addressed a bail application of an under trial prisoner, and directed the trial court for a speedy trial.

The brief facts of the case being that the applicant (a murder convict) has been in police custody for the last 8 years, while his proceedings are still ongoing in the trial court. Thus, aggrieved by the delay, the applicant filed an application for grant of bail in the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, with the contention that even after examining 39 out of 49 witnesses nothing has surfaced that would tie the applicant to the actual murder, and further argued that the only important witness has already been proved hostile and all the other testimonies did not support the prosecution’s story. The applicant even contested that the trial court has still not adhered to the High Courts’ order for speedy disposal of cases.

This Court while passing its judgment relied on landmark cases like Narayan Ghosh @ Nanu v. State of Orrisa, Ved Prakash @ Kalu (JC) v. State through the NCT (Delhi), (2007) 1 LR 2 Delhi 176 and State of Tamil Nadu v. S.A. Raja [Criminal Appeal No. 1470 of 2005], and held that bail cannot be granted since the applicant’s proceeding is still ongoing in the trial court, and further directed the trial court to complete the proceedings within 6 weeks because the fate of an accused cannot be left hanging as a “Trishunka” on the absolute discretion of the trial judge, and further held that ‘right to speedy trial is a fundamental right’ available to the accused. Furthermore, the Court directed apropos the cases relating to ‘under trial prisoners’ to be treated and categorized as “priority sector litigation”. [Rajesh Pandoh v. State, 2017 SCC OnLine J&K 859, decided on 30.12.2017]