NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said that non-listing of plea for regular bail impinges upon liberty of the person in custody and advocated that under the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic, at least half of the judges should sit on alternate days so that hearing is accorded to those in distress.
Expressing “shock” that a bail plea filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court was not listed for hearing for over a year, the apex court said denial of hearing is an infringement of right and liberty assured to an accused.
“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,” said a vacation bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian.
“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,” the bench said in its order passed on Tuesday.
The top court was hearing a plea against an order by which the request for hearing of an application for bail, pending since February 28 last year, was declined by the high court.
“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 bench said.
Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) deals with power of the high court and trial court regarding bail.
“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 bench said.
It said that non-listing of application seeking regular bail, irrespective of the seriousness of offences attributed to the accused, impinges upon the “liberty of the person in custody”.
“Therefore, 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 to hear the application for bail is not taken away by not entertaining such application on the mentioning memo,” it said.
The bench, which disposed of the plea, noted that the registrar general of the high court would bring its order to the notice of the competent authority to take remedial steps at the earliest. PTI