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“Wholly unfathomable and must be eschewed”, SC on High Court delay in finally disposing of a bail plea for over a year [Read Order]

"Such application needs to be dealt with expeditiously and finally, one way or the other and cannot brook delay", the Court further observed.

Meera Emmanuel

The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed its disapproval over the delay observed on the part of the Calcutta High Court in deciding on a bail plea before it. (Motamarri Appanna Veerraju @ Mav Raju v. State of West Bengal)

Whereas the bail application in question had been filed back in August 2018, the High Court was found to have stopped short of finally disposing of the plea for well over a year, instead opting to pass successive interim orders until November last year. The Supreme Court noted,

Instead of finally disposing of the said bail application with promptitude, the High Court for the reasons, which are not clear to us, chose to grant interim relief to the appellant vide order dated 01.10.2018 and continued that protection until this day.”

The Bench of Justices AM Khanwilker and Dinesh Maheswari proceeded to observe,

At the outset, we record our displeasure about the manner in which the bail application filed in August, 2018 has remained pending before the High Court until this day and only interim orders have been passed thereon from time to time as referred to above."

Justices AM Khawilkar and Dinesh Maheswari
Justices AM Khawilkar and Dinesh Maheswari
We have no hesitation in observing that adopting such a course, that too, by a constitutional Court, is wholly unfathomable and must be eschewed. For, the application for bail or anticipatory bail is a matter of moment for the accused and protracted hearing thereof may also cause prejudice to the investigation and affect the prosecution interests which cannot be comprehended in this order. Such application needs to be dealt with expeditiously and finally, one way or the other and cannot brook delay.
Supreme Court

The Court further commented that, “It is not necessary for us to go into the question as to who is responsible for the situation but, at the same time, we need to deprecate the course or process followed in the present case. We say no more.”

In view of the peculiar facts of the case, the Supreme Court proceeded to grant the appellant’s plea for bail, subject to various conditions, observing that,

We are conscious that such a course should be ordinarily eschewed but being convinced about the peculiar fact situation of this case, that approach would meet the ends of justice.

[Read the Order]

Motamarri Appanna Veerraju @ Mav Raju v. State of West Bengal.pdf
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