Speedy Trial

Common Cause” A Registered Society Through Its Director, Petitioner; V. Union Of India And Others, Respondents.
DATE : 01-05-1996
EQUIVALENT CITATION(S) :

1996-(004)-SCC -0033 -SC
1996-(083)-AIR -1619 -SC
1996-(102)-CRLJ -2380 -SC
ARTS. 21 AND 32 — Right to speedy trial– PIL filed by petitioner for issuing of direction with respect to cases pending in criminal Courts for long periods all over the country – The very pendency of criminal proceedings for long periods by itself operates as an engine of oppression – In a majority of these cases, whether instituted by police or private complainants, the accused belong to the poorer sec. s of the society, who are unable to afford competent legal advice – Instances have also come before Courts where the accused, who are in jail, are not brought to the Court on every date of hearing and for that reason also the cases undergo several adjournments – Supreme Court issued necessary directions to protect and effectuate the right to life and liberty of the citizens guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution.
Following directions are made which shall be valid not only for the States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Delhi but for all the States and the Union Territories.
1. (a) Where the offences under IPC or any other law for the time being in force for which the accused are charged before any criminal Court are punishable with imprisonment not exceeding three years with or without fine and if trials for such offences are pending for one year or more and the accused concerned have not been released on bail but are in jail for a period of six months or more, the criminal Court concerned shall release the accused on bail or on personal bond to be executed by the accused and subject to such conditions, if any, as may be found necessary, in the light of section 437 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
(b) Where the offences under IPC or any other law for the time being in force for which the accused are charged before any criminal Court are punishable with imprisonment not exceeding five years, with or without fine, and if the trials for such offences are pending for two years or more and the accused concerned have not been released on bail but are in jail for a period of six months or more, the criminal Court concerned shall release the accused on bail or on personal bond to be executed by the accused and subject to the imposing of suitable conditions, if any, in the light of section 437 CrPC.
(c) Where the offences under IPC or any other law for the time being in force for which the accused are charged before any criminal Court are punishable with seven years or less, with or without fine, and if the trials for such offences are pending for two years or more and the accused concerned have not been realesed on bail but are in jail for a period of one year or more, the criminal Court concerned shall release the accused on bail or on personal bond to be executed by the accused and subject to imposing of suitable conditions, if any, in the light of section 437 CrPC.
2. (a) Where criminal proceedings are pending regarding traffic offences in any criminal Court for more than two years on account of non-serving summons to the accused or for any other reason whatsoever, the Court may discharge the accused and close the cases.
(b) Where the cases pending in criminal Courts for more than two years under IPC or any other law for the time being in force are compoundable with permission of the Court and if in such cases trials have still not commenced, the criminal Court shall, after hearing the public prosecutor and other parties represented before it or their advocates, discharge or acquit the accused, as the case may be, and close such cases.
(c) Where the cases pending in criminal Courts under IPC or any other law for the time being in force pertain to offences which are non cognizable and bailable and if such pendency is for more than two years and if in such cases trials have still not commenced, the criminal Court shall discharge or acquit the accused, as the case may be, and close such cases.
(d) Where the cases pending in criminal Courts under IPC or any other law for the time being in force are pending in connection with offences which are punishable with fine only and are not of recurring nature, and if such pendency is for more than one year and if in such cases trials have still not commenced, the criminal Court shall discharge or acquit the accused, as the case may be, and close such cases.
(e) Where the cases pending in criminal Courts under IPC or any other law for the time being in force are punishable with imprisonment up to one year, with or without fine and if such pendency is for more than one year and if in such cases trials have still not commenced, the criminal Court shall discharge or acquit the accused, as the case may be, and close such cases.
(f) Where the cases pending in criminal Courts under IPC or any other law for the time being in force are punishable with imprisonment up to three years, with or without fine, and if such pendency is for more than two years and if in such cases trials have still not commenced, the criminal Court shall discharge or acquit the accused, as the case may be, and close such cases.
3. For the purpose of directions contained in clauses (1) and (2) above, the period of pendency of criminal cases shall be calculated from the date the accused are summoned to appear in the Court.
4. Directions (1) and (2) made herinabove shall not apply to cases of offences involving (a) corruption, misappropriation of public funds, cheating, whether under the Indian Penal Code, Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 or any other statute, (b) smuggling, foreign exchange violation and offences under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, (c) Essential Commodities Act, 1955, Food Adulteration Act, Acts dealing with environment or any other economic offences, (d) offences under the Arms Act, 1959, Explosive Substances Act, 1908, Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Act, 1987 (E) offences relating to the Army, Navy and Air Force, (f) offences against public tranquillity, (g) offences relating to public servants, (h) offences relating to coins and government stamp, (i) offences against public tranquillity, (g) offences relating to public servants, (h) offences relating to coins and government stamp, (i) offences relating to elections, (j) offences relating to giving false evidence and offences against public justice, (k) any other type of offences against the State,(l) offences under the taxing enactments and (m) offences of defamation as defined in section 499 IPC.
5. The criminal Courts shall try the offences mentioned in para (4) above on a priority basis. The High Courts are requested to issue necessary directions in this behalf to all the criminal Courts under their control and supervision.
6. The criminal Courts and all the Courts trying criminal cases shall take appropriate action in accordance with the above directions. These directions are applicable not only to the cases pending on this day but also to cases which may be instituted hereafter. As and when, a particular case gets covered by one or the other direction mentioned in Directions (1) and (2) read with Direction (4) above, appropriate orders shall be passed by the Court concerned without any delay.
Common Cause”, A Registered Society Through Its Director, Petitioner; V. Union Of India And Others, Respondents.
DATE : 28-11-1996
CITATION(S) :

1996-(006)-SCC -0775 -SC
1997-(084)-AIR -1539 -SC
1997-(103)-CRLJ -0195 -SC
Constitution of India – Arts. 21 & 32 – Speedy trial – Directions of Supreme Court in A registered society vs. Union of India for discharge or acquittal of accused concerned – Direction of the Court in the said common cause case, when apply – Phrase “pendency of trials” as employed in paras 1(a) to 1(c) and the phrase “non-commencement of trial” as employed in paras 2(b) to 2(f) explained.
The time-limit mentioned regarding the pendency of criminal cases in paras 2(a) to 2(f) in the said case shall not apply to cases wherein such pendency of the criminal proceedings is wholly or partly attributable to the dilatory tactics adopted by the accused concerned or on account of any other action of the accused which results in prolonging the trial. In other words it should be shown that the criminal proceedings have remained pending for the requisite period mentioned in the aforesaid clauses of para 2 despite full cooperation by the accused concerned to get these proceedings disposed of and the delay in the disposal of these cases is not at all attributable to the accused concerned, nor is such delay caused on account of such accused getting stay of criminal proceedings from higher Courts. Accused concerned are not entitled to earn any discharge or acquittal as per paras 2(a) to 2(f) if it is demonstrated that the accused concerned seek to take advantage of their own wrong or any other action of their own resulting in protraction of trials against them.
In cases of trials before the Sessions Court the trials shall be treated to have commenced when charges are framed u/s. 228 of the CrPC, 1973 in the cases concerned. In cases of trials of warrant cases by magistrates if the cases are instituted upon police reports the trials shall be treated to have commenced when charges are framed u/s. 240 of the CrPC, 1973 while in trials of warrant cases by magistrates when cases are instituted otherwise than on police report such trials shall be treated to have commenced when charges are framed against the accused concerned u/s. 246 of the CrPC, 1973. The list of offences to which directions contained in paras 1 and 2 shall not apply, the following additions shall be made :
(n) matrimonial offences under Indian Penal Code including s. 498-A or under any other law for the time being in force; (o) offences under the Negotiable Instruments Act including offences u/s. 138 thereof; (p) offences relating to criminal misappropriation of property of the complainant as well as offences relating to criminal breach of trust under the Indian Penal Code or under any other law for the time being in force; (q) offences u/s. 304-A of the Indian Penal Code or any offence pertaining to rash and negligent acts which are made punishable under any other law for the time being in force; (r) offences affecting the public health, safety, convenience, decency and morals as listed in Chapter XIV of the Indian Penal Code or such offences under any other law for the time being in force.
It is further directed that in criminal cases pertaining to offences mentioned under the additional categories (n) to (r) wherein accused are already discharged or acquitted pursuant to the said case and they are liable to be proceeded against for such offences pursuant to the present order and are not entitled to be discharged or acquitted as aforesaid, the criminal Court concerned shall suo motu or on application by the aggrieved parties concerned shall issue within three months of the receipt of this clarificatory order at their end, summons or warrants, as the case may be, to such discharged or acquitted accused and shall restore the criminal cases against them for being proceeded further in accordance with law. Wherein the accused concerned are already acquitted or discharged pursuant to the said order, such acquitted or discharged accused shall not be liable to be recalled for facing such trials pursuant to the present clarificatory order which qua such offences will be treated to be purely prospective and no such cases which are already closed shall be reopened pursuant to the present order.
Conclusion
The time-limit mentioned regarding the pendency of criminal cases in paras 2(a) to 2(f) in the said case shall not apply to cases wherein such pendency of the criminal proceedings is wholly or partly attributable to the dilatory tactics adopted by the accused concerned or on account of any other action of the accused which results in prolonging the trial.