Supreme Court Urges Prompt Listing of Bail Applications as Personal Liberty at Risk

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Published on: December 16, 2023 at 21:26 IST

The Supreme Court conveyed its serious apprehensions regarding the delays in the consideration of anticipatory bail and regular bail applications by High Courts.

Justices C.T. Ravikumar and Sanjay Kumar, forming the bench, expressed concern over the persistent inefficiency in the listing and disposal of these crucial applications, emphasizing the significant impact on the personal liberties of individuals seeking urgent relief.

The Bench, in response to the recurring delays witnessed across various courts, directed the Registry to transmit a copy of the order to the Registrar General and all relevant authorities of every High Court. The objective is to ensure the expedited listing of bail and anticipatory bail applications.

The Court underscored the gravity of the situation, stating, “This Court held and reiterated that decisions on anticipatory bail applications/bail applications are concerned with the liberty and therefore, shall be taken up and disposed of, expeditiously.”

It strongly criticized the practice of admitting bail applications and subsequently deferring decisions unduly, deprecating such a practice.

The case before the bench originated from an interim order issued by a Single Judge bench of the Chhattisgarh High Court on December 6, addressing the anticipatory bail application of the petitioner facing charges under various sections of the Indian Penal Code.

Expressing disapproval, the Bench noted the vague order from the High Court, which mentioned “List this case in its chronological order” without specifying a definite date for the next hearing.

The Supreme Court emphasized that such indefinite orders in matters relating to anticipatory bail and regular bail contribute to unnecessary delays and pose a threat to the liberty of individuals.

The Court, recognizing the persisting issue despite previous orders, granted interim protection to the petitioner in the Criminal Special Leave Petition (SLP) and urged the Learned Single Judge of the High Court to promptly dispose of the pending application, preferably within four weeks.

Senior Advocate Mr. Sidharth Luthra, representing the petitioners, presented his arguments at length during the hearing. The Court clarified that the grant of interim protection should not influence the consideration of the bail application, which will be evaluated on its own merits.

This recent directive from the Supreme Court echoes concerns raised in February 2022 when Chief Justice NV Ramana, leading a three-judge bench, expressed disapproval of the Chhattisgarh High Court’s practice of granting indefinite adjournments in anticipatory bail matters.

The bench stressed that this procedure was unacceptable, emphasizing the detrimental impact on an individual’s valuable rights.

Case Title: Kavish Gupta v. State of Chhattisgarh

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