KOCHI: Taking note of the delay in delivering orders on bail applications in criminal courts, the Kerala High Court has ordered that magistrate courts must dispose of bail pleas within in one week from the date of filing of such pleas. Justice B Sudheendra Kumar also directed that orders on bail applications should be delivered on the date of hearing of pleas or the next date. Besides, the copy of the order on the bail applications should be handed over on the date of pronouncing the order itself.
The court issued the guidelines while allowing a petition filed by Santhosh Kumar, an accused in a case registered under the Abkari Act, against a magistrate court’s order rejecting his bail plea. Petitioner’s counsel KR Sunil submitted that though the petitioner applied for bail before the magistrate court on July 31, the order on the bail application was passed only on August 22. Following the submission, the High Court sought a report from the magistrate.
The court flayed the Chengannur Judicial First Class Magistrate-I who took more than two weeks to dispose of the bail application. The court said the reasons for the delay stated by the magistrate were not reasonable and the delay in disposing of the bail application, in this case, could not be justified. The magistrate should have delivered the order on the date of hearing itself on the next date. The court opined that the magistrate needs proper training to improve her competence as a judicial officer.
The court observed the Supreme Court had held that the subordinate criminal courts must dispose of bail applications within one week. The criminal courts had to deliver judgment within four days after the conclusion of the trial as per a High Court circular.
The Chengannur magistrate court had disregarded the apex court observations. The magistrate had taken 14 days to deliver the order after hearing the bail application. Therefore, the delay in disposing of the bail application could not be justified at all, the court observed.