The Supreme Court while directing the High Court to assign the matter to a different Bench for the disposal of a case has reiterated that if the judgment is not pronounced within a period of six months, it should be placed before another Bench for fresh arguments [Anil Rai v. State of Bihar – (2001) 7 SCC 318]

Noticing that the Appellant has been in custody for 16 years 9 months and 18 days, the Court released him on interim bail and requested the Bench now assigned to take up the matter as expeditiously as possible.

The two-judge Bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah directed that the matter be assigned by the Chief Justice of the High Court to another Bench.

AOR Raies Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander and Advocate Sameer Rai appeared for the Petitioner, whereas, AOR Nirmal Kumar Ambastha and Advocate Parth Awasthi appeared for the Respondent.

The observation came in reference to a decision of this court dated May 08, 2023, whereby even though the Criminal Appeal No.3832/2014 was concluded on August 04, 2022, the prayer of the Petitioner for bail was not attended to. Even though the judgment was reserved on the said date but the order of August 04, 2022 was neither uploaded online nor was made available to the Petitioner, despite the fact that he had already completed 16 years 9 months and 18 days in actual custody.

On perusal of a report received from the Registrar General of the High Court, the Apex Court found that the proceedings of August 04, 2022 have been belatedly put on the website showing that the judgment was reserved, but no judgment was pronounced or released on May 11, 2023 as per report of the Assistant Registrar.

Referring such act as completely unsatisfactory state of affairs, the Apex Court observed that thereafter the matter was required to be handed over to another Bench, more so, in the manner it has proceeded even thereafter, simply being assigned to the same Bench and thereafter being concluded on that date by the same Bench.

"We thus, cannot appreciate the reassigning of the matter to the same Bench and we direct that the matter be assigned by Hon’ble Chief Justice to another Bench keeping in mind the ratio in Anil Rai (supra). Thus, there is no question of pronouncement of judgment now by the same Bench on 19.05.2023," the Bench observed.

The Court thus requested the Bench of the High Court assigned to expedite the matter.

Cause Title: Umesh Rai @ Gora Rai v. Union of India

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