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Specify Steps Taken To Reconstruct Case Records Gutted In Fire That Broke Out At AG's Office: Allahabad HC Seeks UP Govt Reply

Sparsh Upadhyay
5 Aug 2022 2:01 PM GMT
Allahabad High Court, Specify Steps, Reconstruct, Case Records, Gutted In Fire, Broke Out, Advocate general office, Uttar Pradesh Govt Reply, Justice Saral Srivastava,
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The Allahabad High Court has asked the Uttar Pradesh Government to specify steps that have been taken by it for the reconstruction of case records that were gutted in the fire that broke out on sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth floors of the State Advocate General Office on July 17.

The Court also stressed that an accused/bail applicant cannot remain in jail on the ground that his bail application is not being heard as the State is unable to assist the Court for want of record.

The bench of Justice Saral Srivastava also underscored that the State is the custodian of the record for which counsel for the applicant cannot be blamed, and if the record has been lost, the State is solely responsible.

Essentially, the bench was dealing with the bail plea of an accused, however, when the matter came up for hearing, the State's counsel sought adjournment on the ground that the record of the case was not available, as the file of the case has been gutted in the fire.

At the outset, the Court noted that more than two weeks have passed since the unfortunate incident, and the Court has accommodated the State Government and adjourned the cases at their request.

Further, the Court observed that for the last two weeks, the Court has not been able to function properly for want of assistance from the State as they have not made any appropriate arrangement so that the case may be heard.

Against this backdrop, the Court stressed upon the duty of the State to reconstruct the record in such cases by observing thus:

"The State is the custodian of the record for which counsel for the applicant cannot be blamed, and if record has lost, the State is solely responsible. Being the custodian of the record, it ought to have taken care to maintain the record in such a manner so that in any eventuality, the record of the case my be preserved. The applicant cannot remain in jail for not getting his bail application heard incessantly on the ground that the State is unable to assist the Court for want of record."

Consequently, the Court asked the Principal Secretary (Law), Government of U.P., Lucknow to appear before the Court to explain as to what steps have been taken for the reconstruction of the record.

Importantly, the Court also sought the response of the State Govt on the point that if the adjournment is being sought in the case on the ground of non-availability of record, then who shall compensate the poor litigant whose personal liberty is at stake as his case is not heard for want of assistance from the State due to which he has to remain incarceration for no fault of him loosing his personal liberty.

It may be noted that the office of the Uttar Pradesh Advocate General located in the Allahabad High Court caught fire on July 17. In the said incident, scores of files were gutted in the fire. Taking cognizance of this incident, the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh had ordered the formation of a committee to probe the reasons that might have led to the fire.

Case title - Devki Alias Sonu Alias Devki Saran Sharma v. State Of U.P Through Secretary (Home) [CRIMINAL MISC. BAIL APPLICATION No. - 33332 of 2022]

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