The judicial system is answerable to an accused who is denied speedy justice, observed the Bombay High Court while hearing a bail plea of a Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act) accused.
The Honourable Justice Bharti Dangre also took note of the fact that there had been delays in the trial in the case even though the court had expedited the trial.
"Speedy justice being identified as an integral part of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the judicial system is also answerable to the accused who are incarcerated, though there are no serious charges, but what is the bare minimum expected from this system is a fair and speedy trial," observed Justice Dangre.
The HC was hearing a bail plea filed by one Abdul Nasir Bhai Miya Shaikh, arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) on February 4, 2018. Earlier, he had filed a bail application, which was withdrawn after the HC directed the special NDPS court to expedite the trial. In 2021, the HC had directed the special court to complete the framing of charges and commence trial in the case within six months.
However, the court was informed recently that despite its orders, there has been no progress in the case. In fact, the charges were framed after three months of the HC’s order and after that, the accused in the case had filed for medical bail and then regular bail.
The case was last listed on September 3, even though the trial did not commence, noted Justice Dangre.
"This depicts the sorrow state of affairs as the applicant remained incarcerated since February 4, 2018 and more than four years have expired and still the trial is proceeding at a snail pace. From April 2021 till September 2022, more than a period of one year and four months has passed but the trial has not moved even in inch," added HC.
There were around 15 witnesses in the case, and yet the trial court was proceeding at a snail's pace.
The HC has called for a report from the special court seeking an explanation as to why such leniency was granted to the prosecution and to the accused who had moved for medical bail.
Justice Dangre has also sought the details of the pending cases before the concerned special court and the year since when they were pending.
"The concerned Judge shall also submit the number of High Court and Supreme Court expedited trials which are pending before the Court. Let such a report come within a period of two weeks, "added HC.
The HC has kept the matter for a further hearing on September 19, 2022.