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Justice Delayed: SC Gives Pre-arrest Bail, Recalls Order After Knowing Petitioner is Already in Jail

Image for representation

Image for representation

The man’s petition for a pre-arrest bail remained stuck for more than 45 days, and by the time the judges said he should not get arrested, he was already in jail.

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Utkarsh Anand

Delayed listing of a case in the Supreme Court has cost a man his freedom. The man’s petition for a pre-arrest bail remained stuck for more than 45 days, and by the time the judges said he should not get arrested, he was already in jail.

What can be seen as a classic specimen of ‘justice delayed is justice denied’ came up before a bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar on Friday when the court took up the petition for anticipatory bail.

“What is this? Just because he could not settle with his wife, he is supposed to be arrested,” Justice Khanwilkar remarked as soon as he started hearing the matter.

Without having the need for the lawyer to argue for the petitioner, the bench was convinced that the man should be protected from arrest. The court then passed the order, issuing notices to his estranged wife and the Manapparai police officials in Tamil Nadu where the FIR was registered against him.

It also issued the order that the man will not be arrested and that he should be given pre-arrest bail – only to delete this part a minute later.

At this, advocate B Karunakaran, representing the man, intervened. He informed the bench that his client has already been arrested.

“Your lordships, I filed this petition on August 27. And it has come up for hearing only today. My client is already in jail. I request you to kindly issue some directions to the registry that anticipatory bail petitions should be listed for hearing expeditiously,” said Karunakaran.

He added that the purpose of filing a pre-arrest bail has been defeated in this case and the court may correct the situation for future petitioners.

The bench was intrigued: “Oh, he has already been arrested. Then nothing survives in this petition. This petition is infructuous now.”

Justice Khanwilkar then had the order granting bail deleted and asked the man to pursue other appropriate remedies, including a regular bail application before the trial court.

After the proceedings got over, the judge could also be heard telling his court staff: “There should be some direction to the registrar, judicial and listing to list such matters soon after they are filed.”

However, for a man who was thrown behind bars in a case where the highest court thinks he should not be arrested, there was no solace in the Supreme Court’s final order.


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