Non-listing of cases of persons in distress, bail applications infringes right to liberty: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court upon finding that a bail application has been pending before the Punjab and Haryana High Court for past one year observed that considering the current conditions of the pandemic at least half of the High Court judges should be present in the court on alternative days to hear the cases of distressed persons.

The court observed that even if the bail applications are of a non-serious nature and is not listed for a long period of time, it infringes the right to liberty of the person in custody.

The vacation bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V. Ramasubramanian were hearing an SLP against an April order of Punjab and Haryana High Court wherein a request for bail pending since February 28, 2020 was declined.

The bench observed that it does not interfere with the matters of interim orders being passed by the High Courts but considering the instant case it is mandatory to pass the present order as it is a matter of shock that the bail application has been pending since a year. It is the right of the accused to be heard and denial of hearing is an infringement of the rights and liberties of the accused. Such a happening defeats the administration of justice.

The Court held that at least half of the judges of the High Court should be available for hearings on alternative days so that an opportunity of hearing is given to the accused. It further expressed that it hopes the High Courts will be able to take up the bail applications at an earlier date in order to uphold the rights of the accused.

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