"Liberty Of Individuals Gets Hampered": Delhi High Court Expresses Concern Over Non-Filing Of Status Reports In Bail Pleas
The Delhi High Court on Thursday expressed its concern over the non filing of status reports by the concerned officers in the pending bail applications, orally remarking that delay in the same hampers the liberty of an individual. Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri was hearing two matters wherein the Court had earlier adjudicated upon the aspect of filing of status reports by the prosecuting agencies so...
The Delhi High Court on Thursday expressed its concern over the non filing of status reports by the concerned officers in the pending bail applications, orally remarking that delay in the same hampers the liberty of an individual.
Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri was hearing two matters wherein the Court had earlier adjudicated upon the aspect of filing of status reports by the prosecuting agencies so as to ensure that there is no delay in the same. Earlier, the Court was informed that necessary sensitization programmes of the Investigating Officers with respect to timely filing of Status Reports had been carried out.
During the course of hearing on Thursday, the Court expressed it's concern over the delay in filing of status reports and asked the concerned DCP appearing in the matter thus:
"Off and on, we still come across matters, despite assurances by you that care will be taken that the status reports reaches court in time so that bail applications are heard and they are not unnecessarily adjourned. It is the liberty of the individual which gets hampered by non filing of status reports. "
"I am pained to see that despite all senior officers, APPs making efforts that these status report reaches court in time, these status reports are still not filed. They are handed over on the date of hearing or a day prior. Once a status report is directed to be filed within one month or as per the availability of dates with Court, why it is filed only on the last date?"
In response thereto, the Court was informed by the DCP that the decision of the Gujarat High Court in Thakore Laxmanji v. State of Gujarat has been reiterated to be followed by the Investigation Officers and other officers concerned.
The Gujarat High Court had directed that the concerned SP or any other responsible Police Officer entrusted with the supervision of the investigation of a case as well as the PP incharge of the bail application shall be duty bound to see to it that proper counter affidavit highlighting the material aspects of the case is filed before the Court by the Investigating Officer incharge of the case.
He however added that despite the aforesaid, there were some cases wherein discrepancies were being observed and that some disciplinary action may be required either by Court's directions or taking suo moto cognisance of the matter so as to ensure compliance by the officers at ground level.
To this, APP Hirein Sharma appearing in the matter added that in such cases, some penalty may be imposed on the supervising SHOs so that the lacuna in the system can be filled and cured.
"What happens is suppose a fresh matter is listed today, a day prior a DD is made and we inform SHOs. Then your lordship issues notice. And then IO is present. In all the supplementary matters, the IOs are present, SHOs are informed. If despite this if they are not filing, then some disciplinary action should be taken," he added.
Hearing the aforesaid, Justice Ohri told the DCP thus:
"It is a call to be taken at your level as to how to streamline the process whether by sensitizing or by punitive action. It is a call for you to take."
The Court then inquired about the standard template to be followed while filing of such status reports. To this, the Court was informed by the DCP that the template as given by the Gujarat High Court has been reiterated at the DCP level.
On the said aspect, APP Sharma apprised the Court about the affidavit filed dated January 18, 2022 wherein it was stated that following the Gujarat High Court ruling, various circulars have been issued regarding the details that are to be followed while filing status reports.
He added that a meeting was also conducted on August 5 last year by DCPs which was joined by the standing counsels, APPs and IOs wherein some issues were highlighted and a need for a standard format was felt to be followed for filing of status reports.
He also stated that a fresh circular has been issued this month following the Gujarat High Court decision which has been circulated to all DCPs and SHOs.
"How these points now will have to be covered on the ground level, we will have to see that," he added.
To this, Justice Ohri told the DCP thus:
"I understand the work force is under tremendous pressure but the orders, in both matters, are available on the High Court website as to what compliances are to be made. Most of the time these orders are uploaded in a day or two. Then you don't have a checklist of the dates which are coming on the next week so that you can take corrective measures this week or this month. It is not that somebody has to inform them. You are aware that the bail applications is pending. These orders in applications requiring some kind of compliances are available on the High Court website. What is the purpose of all this technology when you are saying that nobody informed me that I have to file a status report. Can this be a response by any officer?"
"This Court invariably sees this that whenever a bail application is coming up for second time when the status report is required to be filed, in 99% of cases it is filed a day or two prior. If the petitioner is lucky then it's on record else the Court is forced to give a date. And these times on VC hearings, we are able to look through our emails, we ask for these status reports on emails to directly to us but that can't be a system in perpetuity or permanently. Ultimately the status reports have to be on record and not on the emails."
"While this is filed, I understand, you have to give the latest position as to what is the latest status in case but then it can be filed two three days in advance. Why it has to wait?"
Accordingly, the Court asked the APP to place on record the relevant circulars and standing orders passed by the authorities and said that it will be passing order on the issue.
"We try to accommodate most of the times. But some times the Court is pained to give a date because of the workload. The date sometimes given is of four weeks or six weeks. No justification for keeping an accused in custody for another four weeks without giving him a hearing," Justice Ohri added.
Dealing with a similar issue, Justice Kait had earlier directed the prosecuting agencies to file proper status reports in criminal cases, containing all the details relevant for deciding the bail applications filed therein, and etc.
Case Title: Sumer v. State