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  • Writer's pictureVidhya Shet

LONG TIME FOR TRIAL GROUND FOR BAIL



While our Hon’ble Courts have time and again reiterated the principle that “Bail is a rule and jail an exception”, there are several recent judgments which shows long incarceration as one of the prominent ground for grant of bail when there is no or very slow progress of trial even in serious offences.


(i) Hon’ble Bombay High Court Judgment in Akash Satish Chandalia V/s. State of Maharashtra Neutral Citation No. 2023: BHC-AS:28583


Facts of the case:

The Applicant was arraigned in C.R.No.130 of 2015 registered with Lonavala Police Station under Sections 302, 364, 342, 201, 120-B of the IPC. On completion of investigation, a charge-sheet was filed against him on 14/12/2015 and he was facing a trial before the Sessions Court, Pune.

He came to be arrested on 25/09/2015. This was 2nd Bail application filed by him on grounds of: long incarceration (seven and half years) and release of co-accused who was attributed similar role as that of the Applicant.


Decision

The Hon’ble Court while extending the benefit of long incarceration to the Applicant held as under:

“7. The seriousness of an offence and it’s heinous nature may be one aspect, which deserve a consideration while exercising the discretion to release an accused on bail, but at the same time, the factor of long incarceration of an accused as under-trail prisoner also deserve its due weightage. Pending the trial, a person cannot be kept in custody for an indefinite period of time and it clearly violate the fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution and time and again, has been considered to be a justiciable ground to exercise the discretion to release an accused.


Various orders/judgments from the highest Court are placed before me which have directed release of an accused on the ground of long incarceration and the impossibility of conclusion of trial in a time bound manner.


9. Deprivation of personal liberty, without ensuring speedy trial is not in consonance with Article 21 of the Constitution. Access to justice and speedy trial has been well recognised as hallmark of liberty guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution and when a timely trial is not possible, the accused cannot be made to suffer further incarceration, if he has already undergone significant period of the proposed sentence and in such circumstances, the Court would ordinarily be obligated to enlarge him on bail, keeping aside the seriousness of the accusations faced by him.”



(ii). Hon’ble Supreme Court in Banamali Choudhury @ Banamali Choudhuri V/s. State of West Bengal (SLP (Cri) Nos. 10043 of 2023).


Facts of the case:

The Appellant was a lawyer who was found guilty in committing offence of rape and murder of young girl. Hon’ble Calcutta High Court had refused bail to the Appellant vide order dated 17th May, 2023.


Decision

The Hon’ble Apex Court observed as under while allowing the SLP filed by the Appellants..

“The occurrence is of the year 1983 which is forty years old now. There are reasons and reasons why the trial was delayed. The trial came to an end with the order of conviction of the appellant on 21st April, 2023. The appellant was throughout on bail. The present age of the appellant is about 75 years. The appeal before the High Court has been admitted for final hearing. Considering the delay in disposal of the trial, the fact that the occurrence is of the year 1983 and the present age of the appellant, he deserves to be enlarged on bail, pending the final disposal of the appeal before the High Court on appropriate stringent terms and conditions”


Conclusion

The above decisions definitely uphold the liberty of an individual even in serious offences when there is long incarceration.


Sc in Banamali Choudhury
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Bombay HC in Akash Satish chandalia Vs. State of Maharashtra
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