The Supreme Court recently expressed its concern over the persistent issue of delays in the listing of bail applications and anticipatory bail applications in High Courts throughout the country, despite issuing repeated orders and Judgments urging against undue deferment of decisions.

The Bench of Justice C.T. Ravikumar and Justice Sanjay Kumar was dealing with a Special Leave Petition challenging an order passed by the Chattisgarh High Court for its delay in considering an anticipatory bail application. The High Court had issued notice in an anticipatory bail case involving an individual accused of offenses under Sections 420, 467, 468, 409, and 471 read with Section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. However, it did not assign a specific date for the hearing and instead directed that matter be listed in chronological order.

Senior Advocates Sidharth Dave and Sidharth Luthra along with Advocates-on-Record Talha Abdul Rahman appeared for the Petitioner.

The High Court had passed the following order, "Mr. Aman Saxena, counsel for the application. Ms. Hamida Siddiqui, Dy. Advocate General for the State. Heard. Admit. Call for the case Diary. List this case in its chronological order." Being aggrieved, the Petitioner approached the Apex Court.

Considering the impugned order, the Bench noted, "The aforestated order would reveal that on 06.12.2023, the matter was taken up for consideration and after hearing the petitioner, it was admitted and the case Diary was called for. At the same time, its discernible from the order that the case was not specifically posted to any date. What was ordered was to list the matter in its chronological order. When the matter would be placed before the Court for further consideration, in such circumstances, is nothing but a matter of guess."

The Bench also in its order observed that the Supreme Court has multiple times held and reiterated that decisions on anticipatory bail applications / bail applications, are concerned with liberty and therefore, shall be taken up and disposed of, expeditiously. "On 21.02.2022 in SLP (Crl) No.1247/2022, a Bench of three Judges of this Court reiterated the same view. Virtually, this Court deprecated the practice of admitting the bail applications and thereafter deferring decisions on it unduly. The case on hand reveals recurrence of such a situation despite the repeated pronouncements of this Court on very issue", noted the Court in its order.

Further in the order, the Court expressed its concern and stated, "We have no hesitation to hold that such an order sans definiteness in the matter relating to anticipatory bail/regular bail, that too after admitting the matter, would definitely delay due consideration of the application and such an eventuality will be detrimental to the liberty of a person. It is taking into account such aspects that this Court held that such matters pertaining to personal liberty shall be taken up and decided at the earliest. It is a matter of concern that despite repeated orders, the same situation continues."

In view of the recurrence of the said situation in different courts, the Court directed its Registry to send a copy of this order to the Registrar General and all concerned of all High Courts so as to ensure listing of bail applications/ anticipatory bail applications at the earliest.

On the merits of its matter, the Apex Court requested the Single Judge of the High Court to dispose of the pending anticipatory bail application, pending adjudication before him, on its own merits and in accordance with law, expeditiously and preferably within a period of four weeks from the receipt/ production of this Order. The Court also granted interim production from arrest to the petitioner.

Cause Title: Himanshu Gupta v. State Of Chhattisgarh [Diary No. 51289/2023]

Click here to read/download the Order