SC to fix timeframe for criminal cases, bail

Two years for disposal, a week for granting bail

The Supreme Court has fixed a deadline of a week for deciding bail applications and two years for disposal of all serious crime cases by sessions courts across the country.

The court said that all the trials pending for five years or more should be decided by the end of 2017, while framing an action plan for quick disposal of cases.

A bench of Justices Adarsh K Goel and Uday U Lalit said that an appropriate action plan must be laid down for subordinate courts and at the level of high courts.

“Judicial service as well as legal service are not like any other services. They are missions for serving the society. The mission is not achieved if the litigant who is waiting in the queue does not get his turn for a long time,” the bench said.

 The court made its directions after it came across two criminal cases where the accused were in custody for a number of years while their cases awaited final orders.

 The bench noted various directions have been issued by the apex court from time to time as well as the resolutions passed in the joint conferences of chief ministers and chief justices in this regard.

The bench asked all courts  to issue directions to the subordinate courts that all bail applications should normally be disposed of by the judicial officers within one week.

“Magisterial trials, where accused are in custody, be normally concluded within six months and sessions trials where accused are in custody be normally, concluded within two years,” the bench said.

There were more than 43 lakh cases pending for five years or more at the end of 2015 while 3,599 undertrials were in custody for more than five years, awaiting disposal of their cases.

Relying upon these statistics, the bench said that an action plan has to be put in place with targets to be achieved by judicial officers, which will be reflected in their annual confidential reports (ACRs).

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