Apex court seeks AG's view on delay of justice

Apex court seeks AG's view on delay of justice

The Supreme Court has sought to know from the Attorney General if there can be an alternative forum for hearing criminal appeals, as convicts in several cases remained in jails beyond 10 years in gross violation of their fundamental right to speedy justice.

A bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U U Lalit issued a notice to Attorney General K K Venugopal seeking his assistance to formulate measures and steps to ensure hearing of criminal appeals within a reasonable time.

The court relied upon observations made at a meeting of the stakeholders held by the Arrears Committee of the Supreme Court on April 8, which emphasised on "structural alternative" and the "need for re-engineering of the structure of administration of justice".

In the meeting, it was noted that in most of the high courts the disposal was less than the cases filed and as many as 16.29 lakh cases were more than five years old. The figure of 10-year-old cases is 7.43 lakhs in the high courts and more than 20 lakhs in the subordinate courts.

"Thus it appears necessary to explore the suggestion whether there can be an alternative forum for hearing of appeals by adopting suitable legislative or administrative measures to effectuate the mandate of fundamental right under Article 21," the bench said.The court appointed advocate Dhruv Mehta as amicus curiae and put the matter for consideration on November 21.

The top court passed its order after the Jharkhand High Court expressed its inability to hear the bail application of a man convicted for murder.

Though the man has remained in jail for more than 10 years, pending his criminal appeal, the high court had said that it could not take up his case as it was hearing appeals pertaining to those who were behind the bars for over 13 years due to paucity of bench.

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