New Delhi, August 27
Arguing that it cannot allow a person to be kept incarcerated for a long time without trial, the Supreme Court has granted bail to two West Bengal defendants who have been languishing in jail for four years in a criminal case.
“We cannot allow the situation to prevail when the person is held in custody for a long period of time as the trial is just beginning,” said a bench headed by Judge Sanjay Kishan Kaul.
“We are therefore of the view that, as the period of incarceration is almost four years now and the first witness for the prosecution has not yet been interviewed, the appellants are entitled to bail on the terms prescribed by the trial court. Ordered accordingly,” said the bench which also included Judge PS Narasimha.
He took note of the fact that even the first witness for the prosecution was not questioned in the 2018 case regarding the alleged seizure of 414 kg of contraband ‘Ganja’.
Although an indictment was filed and charges were filed, the case did not proceed, he said, allowing the accused to appeal against the November 2021 order of the Calcutta High Court, which had rejected their bail plea in the case under the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
However, the high court said that if the appellants seek to delay the trial, “we allow the high court to commit the appellants to custody”.
Accused appellants would be required to remain present on all dates set by the trial court and their attorneys would not request unnecessary adjournments, the chamber said.