Delhi High Court in Joginder Singh vs. State has observed that keeping a criminal case pending for indefinite period amounts to violation of constitutional rights of the accused recognized under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
Quashing the criminal cases against the accused which were pending since 1998, Justice Suresh Kait said “The petitioner is facing the trial since 1998 although there is no delay on his part. More than 17 years have already been passed”.
In 1996, FIR was registered against the petitioner for the offences punishable under Sections 468/471/120B/34 IPC, but charges are not framed till date. The petitioner in this case was arrested on the basis of a disclosure statement made by one Daljeet Singh. Two other accused persons have been declared as proclaimed offenders.
Referring to Vakil Prasad Singh v. State of Bihar AIR 2009 SC 1822 , the court said “Nothing material has been brought in the notice of this Court that delay in framing charge is caused by the petitioner. Thus, keeping the case pending for indefinite period amounts to violation of constitutional rights of the petitioner recognized under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Moreover, a case could not have been registered against the petitioner only on the basis of disclosure statement of co-accused without any supporting material.”
In Vakil Prasad Singh case, the Apex Court had observed “The prosecution has failed to show any exceptional circumstance which could possibly be taken into consideration for condoning a callous and inordinate delay of more than two decades in investigations and the trial. The said delay cannot, in any way, be said to be arising from any default on the part of the appellant. Thus, on facts in hand, in our opinion, the stated delay clearly violates the constitutional guarantee of a speedy investigation and trial under Article 21 of the Constitution.”
Read the Order here.