The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday (17th November) sought response of the Law Department of the State of Uttar Pradesh as to whether in absence of trial, liberty of the accused-applicant may be curtailed.
The Bench of Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan was hearing a Bail matter, wherein, in compliance of the order dated 22.10.2020, the in-charge Additional District and Sessions Judge, Gonda had submitted a status report indicating that the charge against the accused has already been framed on 26.3.2019.
Thereafter, it was stated in the report, the trial proceedings are held up due to COVID-19 situation, however, date has been fixed for examination of witness as 26.11.2020.
In this backdrop, the Court observed,
"If the aforesaid report is accepted on its face value, then inference may be drawn that the trial court is unable to proceed the trial on account of COVID-19 situation."
Further, the Court said that if the trial court is unable to proceed with the trial then there may not be any logical reason to keep the accused under judicial custody inasmuch as it appears that COVID-19 situation is not going to be controlled in days to come.
Therefore, the Court observed,
"In that situation, the question before the Court would be as to whether liberty of the accused-applicant may be curtailed when the trial courts are unable to proceed the trial."
The Court also remarked,
"The accused person is languishing under judicial custody for the reason that the trial be conducted and concluded at the earliest but if the situation is otherwise, as aforesaid, the counsel for the State has to address the Court on the next date as to what course the Court should adopt because for want of logical explanation for not conducting the trial, the fundamental right granted to every citizen under Article 21 of the Constitution of India may not be denied."'
Lastly, the AGA was directed to seek specific instructions from the trial court as well as from the Law Department of the State of U.P. "as to whether in absence of trial, liberty of the accused-applicant may be curtailed, if so, what may be the logical reasons to that effect."
Case title - Ram Niwas @ Nankan v. State of U.P. [BAIL No. - 4878 of 2019]