12 Jan 2021 3:29 PM GMT
While hearing the concerns of parties that certain anomalies in the practices of hearing of bail applications/bail appeals under 'The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989', the Allahabad High Court on Monday (11th January) issued certain directions regarding placing of bail application/bail appeal under the Act before the Court and timely delivery...
While hearing the concerns of parties that certain anomalies in the practices of hearing of bail applications/bail appeals under 'The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989', the Allahabad High Court on Monday (11th January) issued certain directions regarding placing of bail application/bail appeal under the Act before the Court and timely delivery of notice to victim.
The Bench of Justice Ajay Bhanot noted that Bail applications should be processed expeditiously and placed before the court for hearing in a reasonable and definite time frame.
Maturation of a bail application
It may be noted that the process of maturation of a bail application before it is placed before the Court, is contained in Rule 18 of Chapter 18 of the Allahabad High Court Rules.
However, later on necessary amendments were made to Rule 18 of the Allahabad High Court Rules, reducing the period of notice of bail from ten days to two days.
[In this regard, the Court specifically appreciated the efforts put in by Advocate Haider Rizvi, to reform the bail procedures in this Court, and make them consistent with Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. Due to his efforts, the period of notice was reduced from 10 days to 2 days.]
Relevant provisions of the SC & ST Act
Now, it is important to note that under the SC & ST Act, rights of victim and witnesses and provisions for grant of bail have got special attention in Section 15 of the Act.
Section 15 (A) (3) and (5) are reproduced hereunder:
"(3) A victim or his dependent shall have the right to reasonable, accurate, and timely notice of any Court proceeding including any bail proceeding and the Special Public Prosecutor or the State Government shall inform the victim about any proceedings under this Act."
"(5) A victim or his dependent shall be entitled to be heard at any proceeding under this Act in respect of bail, discharge, release, parole, conviction or sentence of an accused or any connected proceedings or arguments and file written submission on conviction, acquittal or sentencing."
[NOTE: Section 15(5) of the Act is a stage subsequent to Section 15 (3) of the Act. Section 15 (5) comes into play only where the victim exercises his/her right to be heard, when the bail is placed before the Court after its period of maturation.]
It may be noted that as per Section 15 (A) (3), the State Government or Special Public Prosecutor is nominated as the sole agency with the exclusive statutory duty to inform the victim about the bail proceedings.
Also, the phrase "reasonable, accurate and timely notice to the victim" used under Section 15(3) of the Act denotes that the victim has to be given adequate time to prepare his/her defence, prior to placing of the matter before the Court
Now, in this backdrop, the Court remarked,
"Direct responsibility for service of bail notice upon the victim under the Act is upon the State. The Act does not contemplate sending of bail notice to the victim by the Court."
Importantly, the Court further observed
"Failure to serve notice of bail upon the victim, is failure of the State to perform its statutory function. The accused cannot be visited with penal consequences for the default of the State. The erring officials have to be proceeded against as per law."
The Court also said that placement of the bail application/bail appeal before the court cannot be deferred for non-service of notice after the expiry of the time line stipulated below.
Further, the Court directed that the bail application/bail appeal under the Act be placed before the Court in strict adherence to the following time line and procedure:
Further, the Court directed the Director General of Police to create a State Level Committee headed by Officer not below than the rank of Additional Director General of Police.
The committee has been directed to review the working and implementation of the above said directions, streamline procedures, study the possibility of further reducing the time period of notice of bail appeals/bail applications upon the victims, and also examine the action taken against the concerned officials for violating the directions.
The Committee has been directed to submit its report on annual basis before the State Government and make appropriate recommendations.
Case title - Ajeet Chaudhary v. State of U.P. and Another [Criminal Misc. Bail Application No. - 45784 of 2020]
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