Bail matters concern liberty of individuals, HCs should list them expeditiously: SC

The Supreme Court has asked all High Courts to ensure listing and disposal of bail and anticipatory bail applications expeditiously, saying they concern the liberty of individuals.

While dealing with a cheating and forgery case, a bench of justices CT Ravi Kumar and Sanjay Kumar said in a recent order, “This court has held and reiterated that decisions on anticipatory bail applications/bail applications are concerned with the liberty and therefore, shall be taken up and disposed of, expeditiously.”

It said that in 2022, the top court had again reiterated the same view and deprecated the practice of admitting the bail applications and thereafter deferring decisions on them unduly.

“In view of the recurrence of the said situation in different courts, the Registry shall send a copy of this order to the registrar general and all concerned of all high courts so as to ensure listing of bail applications/ anticipatory bail applications at the earliest,” the bench said, in its order dated December 11.

Dealing with a cheating and forgery case, which arose from an order of Chhattisgarh High Court, the bench said the case in hand reveals recurrence of such a situation despite the repeated pronouncements of this Court on the very issue.

The bench said that on December 6, 2023, the matter was taken up for consideration by a bench of the high court and after hearing the petitioner, it was admitted and the case diary was called for.

“At the same time, it’s discernible from the order that the case was not specifically posted to any date. What was ordered was to list the matter in its chronological order. When the matter would be placed before the Court for further consideration, in such circumstances, is nothing but a matter of guess,” it said.

The bench said, “We have no hesitation to hold that such an order sans definiteness in the matter relating to anticipatory bail/regular bail, that too after admitting the matter, would definitely delay due consideration of the application and such an eventuality will be detrimental to the liberty of a person.”

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The top court further said it is taking into account such aspects that this Court had held that matters pertaining to personal liberty shall be taken up and decided at the earliest.

“It is a matter of concern that despite repeated orders, the same situation continues,” the bench said.

It requested the single judge bench of the high court to dispose of the pending anticipatory bail application in accordance with law, expeditiously and preferably within a period of four weeks from the receipt/ production of the SC order.

“Till such time, we grant interim protection from arrest to the petitioner. We also make it clear that the grant of interim protection shall not influence the consideration of the bail application moved by the petitioner and it shall be considered on its own merits,” it said.

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