The Supreme Court on 10 March 2017 fixed deadlines for deciding long-pending criminal cases in high courts and trial courts across the country. The two-judge bench of the apex court comprising of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice UU Lalit said denial of speedy justice is a threat to public confidence in the administration of justice. It said the fundamental right to speedy trial cannot be denied even on the plea of non-availability of financial resources.
Issuing a slew of directions to all high courts, the apex court asked them to issue directions to subordinate trial courts to decide bail pleas normally within one week. Besides, it asked the high courts’ to ask magistrates to conclude trial in petty offences, where undertrials are in jails, within six months.
It said that the session’s court will have to conclude trials in serious offences within two years if the accused are in jail. It added that strict adherence to the timeline is ensured by making it a part of Annual Confidential Reports of judicial officers. It said efforts be made to dispose of all cases which are five years old by the end of the year.
The bench also asked the high court’s to prepare and issue as well as monitor appropriate action plans for subordinate courts. The apex court said appropriate monitoring mechanism on the administrative side as well as on the judicial side be set up by high courts for speedy disposal of cases of undertrials pending in subordinate courts and appeals pending in high courts.