Bail Pleas Must Be Taken Up Expeditiously: Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: The liberty of an individual is 'sacrosanct' and an application seeking bail must be taken up for hearing as expeditiously as possible, the Supreme Court has said.

No time limit can be fixed for applications seeking pre-arrest or post-arrest bail but the minimal which can be expected is that such pleas be heard at the earliest, the apex court said.

A bench of Justices Ajay Rastogi and A S Oka said this while hearing a plea filed by an accused, who was taken into custody in March this year in connection with a case registered at Patiala district in Punjab, urging the court that his application seeking bail which is pending before the Punjab and Haryana High Court be heard expeditiously.

The bench noted that a sessions court had dismissed the bail application filed by the accused after which he had filed a plea seeking post-arrest bail before the high court on July 7.

The petitioner's counsel told the bench that the matter was listed before the court several times but it could not be heard.

"We are not going into the issue at the moment, but liberty of an individual is sacrosanct and we expect that if an application is filed either pre or post arrest, under sections 438/439 of the CrPC, it must be taken up as expeditiously as possible," the bench said in its order passed last week.

"Although, no time limit can be fixed, but that is the minimal which can be expected to give an audience at the earliest," the top court said.

While Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) deals with grant of bail to person apprehending arrest, Section 439 relates to special powers of the high court or a sessions court regarding bail.

While disposing of the plea, the bench requested the high court to consider the bail application filed by the petitioner "as expeditiously as possible".

The petitioner was taken into custody in connection with the case registered on March 30 this year for the alleged offences under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 304 (punishment for culpable homicide not amounting to murder).

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