HC seeks details of time taken to dispose bail pleas, 5-year-old criminal cases

HC seeks details of time taken to dispose bail pleas, 5-year-old criminal cases

Aqib Ahmad
Srinagar: The J&K High Court has directed all principal district and session judges to provide within fifteen days details about the average time taken to dispose off bail applications.
The in-charge Registrar General of the court Sanjay Dhar has also sought details about the average time taken in conclusion of sessions as well as magisterial trials. Besides, the high court has sought the list of criminal cases pending for more than five years in all subordinate courts.
The registrar general has also sought necessary compliance regarding the Supreme Court’s judgment last month, directing subordinate courts to decide bail pleas “normally within one week”. It had also asked the high courts’ to direct magistrates to conclude trial in petty offences, where undertrials are in jails, within six months.
The sessions courts will have to conclude trials in serious offences within two years, if the accused are in jail, the apex court said, adding strict adherence to the timeline be ensured by making it a part of Annual Confidential Reports of judicial officers.
Underlining that “denial of speedy justice is a threat to public confidence in the administration of justice” and the fundamental right to speedy trial “cannot be denied even on the plea of non-availability of financial resources, the apex court had asked the subordinate courts to make efforts to dispose of all cases which are five years old by the end of the year.
“If an undertrial has completed period of custody in excess of the sentence likely to be awarded if conviction is recorded, such undertrial must be released on personal bond. Such an assessment must be made by the concerned trial courts from time to time.”
“The timelines may be the touchstone for assessment of judicial performance in annual confidential reports,” it said. The apex court then issued guidelines for the high courts as well and asked them “to ensure that bail applications filed before them are decided as far as possible within one month and criminal appeals where accused are in custody for more than five years are concluded at the earliest”.
It had also asked the high courts to prepare, issue and monitor appropriate action plans for subordinate courts. “The high courts may monitor steps for speedy investigation and trials on administrative and judicial side from time to time,” it said.
The apex court had also reiterated its directions for setting up adequate number of forensic laboratories to speed up investigation in pending cases where accused are in custody.
“Specification of some of these issues is in addition to implementation of other steps including timely investigation, timely serving of summons on witnesses and accused, timely filing of charge-sheets and furnishing of copies of charge-sheets to the accused. These aspects need constant monitoring by high courts,” it had said.

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