Allahabad HC suggests positive measures for prisoners on trial

Emphasizing that the rights to request bail without delay and to access legal aid of an eligible detainee are intertwinedthe Allahabad High Court suggested on Monday some important positive steps to overcome the delay in filing bail applications by prisoners on trial in the absence of proper legal aid.

The right to move a bail application becomes illusory and personal freedom remains a distant dream if the right to legal aid of a detainee who is entitled to it is not implemented“, the bench of Judge Ajay Bhanot observed while leading the State Legal Services Authority to design a program for those prisoners on trial who are unable to file bail applications due to a lack of adequate access to legal aid.

The Court proposed these measures as it took note of the problem facing detainees on trial regarding their inability to access legal aid, which raises legal and constitutional issues, which directly affect the right to liberty. on bail and the applicant’s personal freedom.

In this regard, the Court suggested the following measures while ordering prison authorities as well as relevant state authorities to cooperate with the State Legal Services Authority and the District Legal Services Authority and ensure the effective implementation of the programs developed by the State Legal Services Authority:

A. Create a comprehensive program with SOPs for legal aid to prisoners charged with various crimes, including heinous crimes, who have not applied for bail in the High Court within one year of the dismissal of release on bail by the court of first instance. The said period of one year is only indicative. This period shall be determined by the State Legal Services Authority.

B Create a comprehensive program with SOPs to provide legal aid to prisoners charged with various crimes, including heinous misdemeanors, who were unable to make bail applications in the trial court six months after their incarceration. The said six-month period is only indicative. This period shall be determined by the State Legal Services Authority.

VS The State Legal Services Committee may suggest to the High Court that it decide on an appropriate procedure for making bail applications on behalf of inmates awaiting trial, and in particular those who have not of pairokars.

D. Legal aid lawyers can be given appropriate instructions to take steps to register and hear bail applications early.

E. Filing of subsequent bail applications in the event that the first bail application is rejected by the High Court.

f. Prison authorities and the District Legal Services Authority should maintain a list of all inmates which should contain this information. Date of incarceration, date of filing of the application for release on bail in the competent court, date of granting/rejection of the application for release on bail by the court of first instance, date of granting/rejection of the application for High Court bail, date of conviction and latest status of pending bail applications. Efforts should be made to update court order sheets and probable dates of registration available online in prisons.

G. Regular information of the progress of the case to the detainees. Collect regular feedback from detainees, including those who have received legal aid.

With this, the Court also highlighted the importance of justice as it noted that legal aid is a catalyst to redeem the promise of justice of the preamble and remains a bulwark for the protection of fundamental rights. The Court also observed that the High Court has a constitutional duty to deal with various legal and constitutional issues which affect the granting of bail if they arise in the facts of a case.

The rights to post bail without delay and an eligible prisoner’s access to legal aid are closely linked. They cannot be separated. The right to displace a bail application becomes illusory and personal freedom remains a distant dream if an inmate’s right to legal aid is not realized. A cool breeze of fundamental rights will blow through the stone walls that a prison makes. The iron prison bars cannot withhold the good news of equal justice“, added the Court.

The Court also stated that the fundamental rights of inmates coupled with the statutory duties of the State Legal Services Authority impose an obligation on the SLSA to design a regime that will take care of the following:

(i) identify prisoners who are awaiting trial for various crimes, including heinous crimes, and who have not applied for bail in the trial court in a timely manner after their incarceration

(ii) to identify prisoners who are facing trial for various crimes, including heinous crimes, but who have not filed bail applications with the High Court in a timely manner after the rejection of their bail request for release on bail by the court of first instance,

(iii) to identify prisoners who are facing trial for various offences, including heinous crimes, but who are unable to post subsequent bail in the High Court after the rejection of earlier bail applications by this Court,

(IV) to identify prisoners who are unable to effectively pursue their pending bail applications for various offences, including heinous crimes resulting in hearing delays,

(V) to determine whether the inability of said prisoners to promptly file or effectively pursue a bail application is caused by factors comprised in Section 12 read with Section 13 of the Act,

(VI) approach detainees who qualify for legal aid, inform them of their rights to file bail applications without delay and determine the nature of the legal aid they require,

(VII) provide legal assistance and facilitate the filing of bail applications

The case before the Court

The Court essentially dealt with the case of a certain Anil Gaur who belongs to an economically disadvantaged class of citizens and was abandoned by his relatives after his imprisonment in connection with a murder case.

Since he did not have access to legal aid to file his bail applications in a timely manner in the Magistrates Court as well as the High Court, therefore after being denied bail by the Magistrates Court in 2019, it took him over 3 years to file his bail application in the High Court.

Deeming him eligible for bail, the court ordered that he be released on bail by posting a personal surety and two sureties each of a similar amount to the satisfaction of the court.

Case title – Anil Gaur@Sonu@Sonu Tomar c. State of UP [CRIMINAL MISC. BAIL APPLICATION No. – 16961 of 2022]

Case quote: 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 435

Click here to read/download the order

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