SC takes note of Orissa HC practice of listing pleas by accused persons in same FIR to different benches

The Supreme Court has taken note of the practice in the Orissa High Court where applications filed by different accused in the same FIR are dealt with by separate benches, and said this leads to “anomalous situation”.

The apex court observed that in many high courts, the practice followed was that applications arising out of the same FIR should be placed before one judge.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sanjay Karol was dealing with a plea filed by an accused challenging the January order of the Orissa High Court rejecting his application seeking bail in a case registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act.

The top court observed that it has come across orders passed in this case by at least three different judges of the high court on the applications of various accused arising out of the same FIR.

“Such a practice leads to anomalous situation. Certain accused are granted bail whereas certain accused for the very same crime having similar role are refused bail,” the bench said in its order passed on May 15.

It quashed the January 31, 2023 order and remanded the matter back to the high court.

“The high court is requested to consider the effect of the orders passed by the other coordinate benches and pass orders afresh. The same shall be done within a period of one month from today,” it said.

“The registrar (judicial) of the registry of this court is directed to forward a copy of this order to the registrar general of the Orissa High Court, who is requested to take note of the aforesaid and consider passing appropriate orders so that contrary orders in the same crime are avoided,” the bench said.

The apex court was hearing a plea filed by a man who was aggrieved by the rejection of his bail application by the high court.

“The perusal of the paper books would reveal that various applications filed by various accused have been entertained by different single judges of the same high court. In many of the high courts, the practice followed is that the applications arising out of the same FIR should be placed before one judge. However, it appears that it is not the practice in Orissa High Court,” the bench said.

In its January 31 order, the high court had noted that the offence relates to alleged possession and transportation of contraband ‘ganja’ weighing over 113 kg.

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