Some “out of the box thinking” is needed to save judicial time and unclutter the system, the Supreme Court Tuesday said while asking the Centre to apprise it of the developments on the suggestion to look into the issue of accused who are in custody for long time pending trial for a single incident.
In August last year, the apex court had observed when the country is celebrating 75th year of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, it is an appropriate time to explore and look into the issue of accused, who have been incarcerated for a long period of time or who may be from weaker economic and social sections of society with a single incident involved, as to what administrative orders can be issued in such a scenario to give relief to them.
In its last year’s order, the top court had said, “We consider it appropriate to put it to the Government of India, for that matter for discussion with the States as to whether in offences where period in custody has acceded a certain percentage of the maximum sentence say one-third or forty percent and the person is willing to submit a bond of good behaviour, those cases can be closed in one go after scrutiny so that the trial courts are unburdened of these cases and are able to concentrate on more heinous cases.”
During the hearing on Tuesday in a separate matter related to guidelines while considering bail applications, a bench headed by Justice S K Kaul asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) K M Nataraj as to whether some developments or discussions have taken place on this issue.
“Plea bargaining somehow has not succeeded so far in our country,” the bench, also comprising Justices A Amanullah and Aravind Kumar, observed.
Nataraj said after the apex court’s order, deliberations have taken place and the Centre has issued some circulars asking the state governments to proceed further on this issue.
“We thought that is a methodology of saving judicial time, uncluttering the judicial system. If they don’t agree, it is different but I thought it is a good idea so that courts are able to concentrate on more heinous cases. What happens is that the volume is so large that it never ends,” Justice Kaul observed, adding, an “out of the box thinking” is needed to unclutter the judicial system.
“You are supposed to hold discussions. The states are also overburdened,” the bench said.
Nataraj told the bench that the matter, in which the top court had passed the order in August last year, was not listed today and he would get instructions on the issue.
The bench told him to find out about the developments on this issue.
It said thereafter, the court master could be informed so that the matter could be listed for hearing.
In its August last year order, the apex court had observed that clogging of the courts by the criminal matters on “all hues of various vintages is an important aspect”.
The bench had passed the order while hearing matters relating to the pendency of appeals in criminal cases for a long time.