The fate of an accused can’t be kept hanging like that of a “Trishunka” on the absolute discretion of the trial judge, the court said.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has reiterated the need to categorize cases relating to undertrial prisoners as a priority sector litigation.
Justice MK Hanjura made this observation while rejecting bail plea of an accused who is in custody for the past eight years. The accused’s contention was that till now, nothing incriminating has surfaced as against him in the evidence recorded by the trial court.
Rejecting the bail plea, the court directed the trial court to complete the proceedings without any unnecessary delay within a period of six weeks on day-to-day basis avoiding unnecessary adjournment.
“It must be said in an apparent digression that various circulars have been passed by the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir for the speedy disposal of the cases involving undertrial prisoners and others. These appear to have been violated with impunity. One gets dismayed to see such a state of affairs,” the court said.
The high court had, in 2013, directed all the Principal and Additional district judges to decide and dispose of all the cases of undertrials where the charge sheets/ challans have been field on or before 31.12.2010 by 31.12.2013. “These have been followed in breach. This reflects a sad and sordid state of affairs,” the court said.
It also observed that the high court has to evolve some mechanism to keep itself abreast of the work done by each judicial officer in light of the circulars on the subject. “Without exerting the checks, balances and the control, these circulars will remain mere pieces of papers. The work of each Judicial Officer is required to be monitored by the High Court and the trial Judges should be asked to spell out the reasons in not following these circulars both in vigor and rigor. Right to speedy trial is a fundamental right available to the accused,” the court said.