New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) While being cognizant of the deleterious impact of drugs on society, courts must keep in mind that deprivation of personal liberty without assurance of speedy trial contravenes the principles enshrined in the Constitution, the Delhi High Court has observed.
The high court said the right to speedy trial is an intrinsic part of Article 21 of the Constitution and even the Supreme Court has time and again delineated its importance as a constitutional right in various judgements.
The high court’s observations came while granting bail to a man who was lodged in jail for the last eight years in connection with a drugs case, on the ground of inordinate delay in trial and prolonged judicial custody.
“Therefore, fair, just and reasonable procedure is implicit in Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) and it creates a right in the accused to be tried speedily. This court has consistently observed that while courts must remain cognizant of the deleterious impact of drugs on society, it is also important to keep in mind that deprivation of personal liberty without the assurance of speedy trial contravenes the principles enshrined in our Constitution,” Justice Subramonium Prasad said.
The court noted that accused Anil Kumar has been in jail since March 2014 for an offence which is punishable with a minimum imprisonment of ten years.
“This is an egregious violation of an accused’s right to personal liberty and right to speedy trial as, in the off-chance that the petitioner is acquitted, it would entail an irretrievable loss of eight years of his life that cannot be compensated. Whether or not the petitioner played an active role in the commission of the offence of drug trafficking and supply is a matter of trial and cannot justify the prolonged incarceration of the petitioner,” it said.
The court said it believes that achievement of universal equality before the law requires the tenets of personal liberty to be applicable to all similarly circumstanced individuals and must not be restricted unless according to procedure established by law.
It said the man was entitled to release on account of inordinate delay in trial and prolonged judicial custody.