The Supreme Court has granted bail to two accused lodged in jail for four years in a criminal case in West Bengal, saying it cannot permit the situation to prevail where a person is kept incarcerated for a long time without a trial.
The apex court observed that even the first witness of the prosecution is yet to be examined in the 2018 case relating to the alleged seizure of 414 kg of contraband Ganja.
The court, however, said if the appellants seek to delay the trial, “we permit the trial court to put back the appellants into incarceration”.
A bench of justices S K Kaul and P S Narasimha noted that a charge sheet was filed and charges have been framed, but the case was not proceeding further.
“We cant permit the situation to prevail where the person is kept in incarceration for a long period of time with the trial hardly to commence,” the bench said in its order passed earlier this week.
“We are thus of the view that as the period of incarceration is almost four years now and the first witness of the prosecution is yet to be examined, the appellants are entitled to bail on such terms and conditions as prescribed by the trial court. Ordered accordingly,” the apex court said.
It said the appellants would be required to remain present on all dates fixed by the trial court and their advocates will not seek unnecessary adjournments.
The top court allowed the appeal filed by the accused against the November 2021 order of the Calcutta High Court which had denied them bail in connection with the case lodged in 2018 for the alleged offences under the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
In its order, the high court had directed the special court to take all efforts for completing the stage of consideration of the charge on the next date so fixed or within a week thereafter and take further steps to complete the trial within a reasonable period taking into account the period of detention of the petitioners.
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