Indefinite adjournments in anticipatory bail matters after admitting it detrimental to valuable right of a person: SC

The Supreme Court ruled that indefinite adjournments in anticipatory bail matters after admitting it detrimental to the valuable right of a person. 

Background 

The main grievance of the petitioner is that the High Court merely admitted the anticipatory bail application filed by him with a further direction to list in due course, but did not consider his I.A. seeking interim protection during pendency of the bail application although co-accused in the same FIR has been granted interim protection from arrest till the final disposal of application for anticipatory bail by the High Court. 

Argument

The petitioner contended that till date, the matter has not been listed for hearing and no order has been passed about the interim protection during the pendency of the anticipatory bail application. He argued that if he is arrested during the pendency of anticipatory bail application, it would become infructuous and his legal right will be defeated. He therefore seeks to ensure that the matter is heard by the High Court and his valuable right be protected.

Decision 

The three judge bench of the Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, Justice A.S. Bopanna, Justice Hima Kohli stated that when an application for anticipatory bail was listed before the Single Judge, which was also accompanied by an application for ad-interim relief, the Judge should have decided the same one way or the other, so far as the ad-interim prayer or should have taken up for consideration after giving some reasonable time to the State. Even if admitted, the Judge should have listed the same for final disposal on a specific date, keeping in view the nature of relief sought in the matter. 

The court viewed that this type of indefinite adjournment in a matter relating to anticipatory bail, that too after admitting it, is detrimental to the valuable right of a person. 

The court made it clear that it has not adverted to the merits involved in the case since it is premature for it to do so at this stage. However, having noted the manner in which the Single Judge has dealt with the matter the court found it necessary to emphasize that when a person is before the Court and that too in a matter involving personal liberty, least what is expected is for such a person to be given the result one way or the other, based on the merit of his case and not push him to a position of uncertainty or be condemned without being heard, when it matters.

The court requested the Single Judge of the High Court to dispose of the anticipatory bail application, pending adjudication before him, on its own merits and in accordance with law, expeditiously and preferably within a period of two weeks. 

Till such time, the court granted interim protection from arrest to the petitioner. 

The court clarified that this shall however not influence the view to be taken by the Single Judge on merits.

Case title: Rajesh Seth v/s The State of Chhattisgarh 

Citation: Special Leave to Appeal (Crl.) No(s).1247/2022

Click here to read the Order/Judgment

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