The points emerging from the interaction may be recorded and examined by an appropriate committee, which may (be) constituted for the purpose.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has observed that “right to speedy trial” is a fundamental right of an accused under Article 21 of the Constitution and directed the Centre to furnish the data of criminal cases pending across various courts in the country in which investigation is pending for over one year.
A bench of Justices A.K. Goel and Indu Malhotra, in a recent order, directed the Union government to hold confabulations with all states on the issue so as to evolve an action plan for expeditiously disposing off such cases.
“We direct the ministry of home affairs to have interaction on the subject with all the Central and state investigating agencies on or before May 31, 2018 either on video conferencing or in person. The points emerging from the interaction may be recorded and examined by an appropriate committee, which may (be) constituted for the purpose. The said committee may give its report latest by June 30, 2018,” the court said in its order.
The bench also directed the MHA to place on record, among other data, the figures of all pending investigations beyond one year and action plan to complete them in a proposed time frame. With regard to state agencies also such information may be collected and furnished by the MHA.
The court passed the order while dealing with a case of one Dilwar, a key accused in the case relating to violence in February 2016 in Haryana, demanding quota benefits for jat community. He sought bail on the ground that investigation has not yet been completed even after two years.
“There is implicit right under Article 21 for speedy trial which in turn encompasses speedy investigation, inquiry, appeal, revision and retrial. To determine whether undue delay has occurred, one must have regard to nature of offence, number of accused and witnesses, workload of the court and the investigating agency, systemic delays. Inordinate delay may be taken as presumptive proof of prejudice particularly when accused is in custody so that prosecution does not become persecution,” the bench said.
The bench asked the trial court to consider his bail application afresh on merits, “if he is still in custody” and directed the CBI to complete the probe in two months and trial should commence in July. It said no investigating agency could take unduly long time in completing investigation. Speedy investigation is recognised as a part of fundamental right of fair procedure under Article 21 of the Constitution.