The Patna Supreme Court has told the Supreme Court that there has been a “phenomenal increase” in bail applications as a result of the ban’s enforcement in the state and that about 25 percent of regular bail applications are filed under the Bihar Prohibition alone. and Excise Act only .
The Supreme Court said it is operating at less than half of its sanctioned power and that the increase in bail applications is causing delays in handling regular bail applications.
It informed the Supreme Court that 39,622 bail applications, including 21,671 anticipatory and 17,951 regular bail applications, are currently pending with the assigned banks. In addition, 36,416 new bail applications have yet to be filed, including 20,498 anticipatory and 15,918 regular bail applications.
On January 11, in another case, a bank led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana rejected a series of petitions from the government of Bihar alleging the granting of anticipatory and regular bails to accused under the state’s strict liquor law. rejected, and said these things were stifled. the courts.
A bench of Judges Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S Oka expressed serious concern about the delay in pending Supreme Court bail applications and the lengthy incarceration of undertrial inmates due to delays in hearing their bail applications.
It invited suggestions from litigants and from lawyer Shoeb Alam, who was present in court.
“At this stage, it is also pertinent to mention that there has been a phenomenal increase in regular bail applications due to the enforcement of the ban in Bihar state. About 25 percent of regular bail applications stem from the Bihar Excise Act. This has led to delays in processing regular bail applications,” the Patna High Court said in its affidavit.
Attorney Gaurav Agrawal, who appeared before the Patna Supreme Court, said the court was working at less than half of its sanctioned strength with 25 judges.
He said: “As of December 2021, 39,622 bail applications were pending before allotted banks and about 36,000 new bail applications were pending. The handling of cases was monitored daily by the Chief Justice and every effort was made to resolve the pending cases.”
The Supreme Court heard a plea from the petitioner Abhyanand Sharma, represented by attorney AR Takkar, who had approached the Supreme Court in a subpoena in an excise crime, aggrieved by the failure to take his regular bail request by the Patna High Court.
The Supreme Court noted that it was a concern if anticipatory bail applications were to become fruitless because they were first accepted after a year of their filing and regular bail applications had to be filed instead.
The bank agreed with attorney Shoeb Alam’s suggestion that from an Article 21 perspective and in order to reduce the burden on the Supreme Court, “provisions of Section 436-A CrPC, which provides for the granting of legal bail to any person facing an investigation or trial, if that person has served more than half the maximum sentence imposed for that offence.”
Mr Alam added that in 2015, a bench of three Supreme Court justices ordered competent magistrates and trial judges to visit prisons in their jurisdiction at least once a week and grant legal bail to eligible inmates on under the said provision from the prison itself .
He also argued that, despite the best efforts of the Supreme Court, most of the cases heard by the Supreme Court were those where the Supreme Court had issued an instruction to expedite listing or the Supreme Court itself agreed upon listing to matter urgently.
The bank noted that it was also concerned about why so many bail applications were being filed with the Supreme Court in the first place.
Referring to the magistrate’s minor offenses and offenses, the bench noted, “Once the investigation is over and charges are filed, why shouldn’t bail be granted.”
However, the bank said that while it would not impede the functioning of the Supreme Court, it would submit the suggestions to the Supreme Court Chief Justice to consider, as it is he who is aware of the reality and best suited to to regulate the functioning of the court.
On January 11, the CJI told counsel for the government of Bihar: “You know how much impact this law (The Bihar Prohibition and Excise Act, 2016) has had on the functioning of the Patna High Court and it takes a year to settle a case. listed there and all courts are choked with the drink bail cases”.
“I am told that 14-15 Supreme Court justices hear these bail cases every day and no other cases are heard,” noted Judge Ramana, as he dismissed as many as 40 state government appeals against the granting of anticipatory and regular cases. rejected by the Supreme Court.
The observations take on significance as the CJI, recently while on duty with Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh, had referred to the law banning alcoholic beverages in Bihar and said it had led to a large number of bail applications being filed with courts. and the Supreme Court of the State.
The CJI had said the lack of foresight in legislation could directly block courts.
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