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Inform if any new bail law is being considered, Supreme Court tells Centre

A bench of Justices M M Sundresh and S V N Bhatti also asked the Centre to inform the court as to whether any assessment has been done to ascertain the requirement of creating further Special Courts (CBI) in districts with high pendency of cases, with requisite data.
Last Updated 23 February 2024, 16:47 IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has asked the Union government to explain if any bail law is in contemplation or preparation in terms of previous direction in case of Satender Kumar Antil in 2022 issued to streamline the grant of bails as jails in the country were flooded with more than two-third of the prisoners being undertrial inmates.

A bench of Justices M M Sundresh and S V N Bhatti also asked the Centre to inform the court as to whether any assessment has been done to ascertain the requirement of creating further Special Courts (CBI) in districts with high pendency of cases, with requisite data.

After hearing senior advocate Sidharth Luthra, who acted as amicus curiae, the court also asked the Centre to provide information as to whether or not the investigative agencies (other than CBI) under its ambit are following the directions of this court as laid down in Satender Kumar Antil case.

Examining compliance of the directions given in the judgment, the court directed all the States, Union Territories, High Courts, Union government, CBI and NALSA to file their updated affidavits within a period of eight weeks.

Among others, the bench directed the Allahabad High Court to "identify judicial officers passing orders in non conformity with the directions issued by this court in Satender Kumar Antil case, in terms of the order of May 02, 2023 of this Court, and to provide details as to the actions taken against erring officers."

In its 2022 judgement, among other directions, the court had said that bail applications ought to be disposed of within a period of two weeks except if the provisions mandated otherwise. The applications for anticipatory bail are expected to be disposed of within a period of six weeks with the exception of any intervening application, it said.

Luthra, while emphasising upon thorough study and verification of the details, argued that certain directions fall within the domain of States/Union Territories/CBI, and High Courts and a few directions within the domain of both the States and the High Courts.

Therefore, for effective monitoring by this court it is completely desirable to combine the stake holders for reporting in a convenient way and are heard on a particular day, the court said.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati informed the court about standard operating procedure and “Guidelines and standard operating procedure for implementation of the scheme for support to poor prisoners” prepared to alleviate the situation of under trial prisoners by way of establishment of a dedicated empowered committee and funds etc.

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(Published 23 February 2024, 16:47 IST)

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