Chandigarh, November 18
In a significant judicial pronouncement, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has underscored the state’s obligation to ensure swift justice for its citizens. The ruling declares it mandatory for the state to provide a procedure that is fair, reasonable and just.
“The state is under obligation to ensure speedy justice to its citizens. The inherent fairness embedded in Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution makes it obligatory for the state to provide a procedure which is fair, reasonable and just,” Justice Harpreet Singh Brar said.
The ruling came in a case involving an FIR for house-trespass and other offences, registered on April 14, 2008. The petitioner was declared innocent in the matter after more than a decade on
January 2, 2019.
Justice Brar asserted that the right to speedy trial under Article 21 “encompasses all the stages of investigation, inquiry and trial”. There was no justification in subjecting a citizen to an indefinite period of investigation. The inaction on the part of investigating agencies and the court concerned could not be accepted and allowed to continue indefinitely.
The judge said the right to speedy trial undoubtedly flowed from the concept of fairness. Any procedure which did not ensure a reasonably quick trial “would fall foul of Article 21”.
The right to a speedy trial was an integral and essential part of the fundamental right to life and liberty enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the court observed.
Referring to the facts of the case in the light of authoritative pronouncements by the Supreme Court, Justice Brar said there was no denial that the FIR was lodged on April 14, 2008, and the petitioner was declared innocent on January 8, 2009.
The investigation was pending till date and the petitioner was subjected to undue prolonged investigation. Fairness implicit in Article 21 conferred a right on the petitioner to be tried speedily.
Justice Brar said: “The present case is not a case of grave magnitude and diabolic in nature which shocks the conscience of the society to prevent this court from exercising its inherent jurisdiction under Section 482 of the CrPC.”
Before parting with the order, Justice Brar said the investigating agency could not be allowed to perpetuate illegal inaction and inflict more misery on the petitioner in violation of his right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution.
Justice Brar quashed the impugned FIR registered at the Maqsudan police station in Jalandhar district.
Inherent fairness embedded in Constitution
The inherent fairness embedded in Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution makes it obligatory for the state to provide a procedure which is fair, reasonable and just for the citizens. — Justice Harpreet Singh Brar
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