HC order limiting period of bail to two months "incorrect", says SC

The top court said that there was no good reason for the high court to "limit the period of bail".
Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of IndiaFile Photo | PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has termed as "incorrect" an order of the Orissa High Court which limited the period of bail granted to an accused in a case lodged under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act to two months.

The bench, while referring to a verdict passed earlier by the top court, said it is now well settled that the right to speedy trial is recognised as a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution and is closely tied to the right to life and personal liberty.

A vacation bench of Justices J B Pardiwala and Ujjal Bhuyan noted that the petitioner had filed a bail application in the high court which had taken notice of the fact that the petitioner was in custody since May 11, 2022 and only one witness was examined so far.

"In such circumstances, the high court thought it fit to order release of the petitioner on bail but only for a period of two months," it noted.

"In our opinion, it is an incorrect order. If the high court was of the view that the right of the petitioner to have a speedy trial could be said to have been infringed, then the high court should have ordered release of the petitioner on bail pending final disposal of the trial itself," the apex court said in its July 1 order.

It said there was no good reason for the high court to "limit the period of bail".

While issuing notice on the plea filed by the petitioner, the bench directed that he shall continue to remain on bail pending further orders by the apex court.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by the petitioner challenging the May 6 order of the high court.

The high court had disposed of his bail application after directing the trial court to release the petitioner on interim bail for a period of two months from the date of his actual release.

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