Chandigarh, September 26
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has affirmed that the right to a speedy trial is not confined to any specific category of cases, but is an inalienable right under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The Bench also made it clear that the Court has a duty to carefully weigh all the attending circumstances in every case where the right to a speedy trial is alleged to have been violated. This would include taking into account factors such as the complexity of the case, the behaviour of the prosecution and defence, and any justifiable delays.
“In every case where the right to speedy trial is alleged to have been infringed, the court has to perform the balancing act upon taking into consideration all the attending circumstances, and determine in each case whether the right to speedy trial has been denied in a given case or not. Where the court comes to the conclusion that right to speedy trial has been infringed, it would be open to the court to make appropriate orders as it may deem just and equitable, including fixation of time for conclusion of trial,” Justice Namit Kumar of the high court asserted
The judgment, having far-reaching implications for the justice system and the rights of citizens, is significant as it emphasises that the right to a speedy trial is a fundamental aspect of the Constitution, ensuring justice and fairness in the legal process. The judgment makes it further clear that the right applies universally to all criminal prosecutions and cannot be waived or ignored.
The ruling came on a petition for regular bail in a drugs case registered on August 12, 2021, under the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act at Patara police station in Jalandhar district.
After arguing the matter for some time, the petitioner’s counsel expressed wish to withdraw the petition with a request for issuance of appropriate directions to the trial court to conclude the trial. Among other things, the counsel submitted that the FIR was registered in August 2021, the challan was filed in December same year and charges with regard to the petitioner were framed in October 2022. But only one of the 13 prosecution witnesses had been examined.
Taking into consideration facts and circumstances of the case, Justice Kumar asserted the court deemed it appropriate to issue directions to the trial court to conclude the trial expeditiously without granting unnecessary and unwarranted adjournments. The order’s copy was directed to be sent to the trial court for information and necessary compliance.
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