RIGHT TO SPEEDY TRIAL (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     4th July 2024        
Samadhaan

Context: The Supreme Court criticized the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for delays in prosecuting a counterfeit currency case, stating that the right to a speedy trial is fundamental regardless of the severity of the alleged crime.


Speedy Trial

  • Inherent in Article 21: It guarantees the right to life and personal liberty, which inherently includes the right to a speedy trial.
  • Interpretation of "Life and Liberty": The phrase encompasses various rights essential for a free and dignified life, among which is the right to a timely judicial process.
  • Legal Protection: Any denial of the right to speedy trial can be challenged in the Supreme Court under Article 32 or in High Courts under Article 226.
  • The Bharatiya Nagarik Suraksha Sanhita (BNSS): The BNSS aims to expedite justice by mandating sessions courts to frame charges within 60 days of the first hearing and deliver judgments within 30 days after completing arguments (extendable to 60 days). 
  • Plea bargaining applications must be submitted within 30 days of charges being framed.

Landmark Cases Related to Speedy Trial

  • Hussainara Khatoon & Ors. vs Home Secretary, State of Bihar 1979: No procedure which does not ensure a reasonably quick trial can be regarded as ‘reasonable, fair or just’ and it would fall foul of Article 21. 
  • Katar Singh vs State of Punjab: A constitution bench of the Supreme Court unequivocally construed the right of speedy trial as a fundamental right. “The concept of speedy trial is read into Article 21 as an essential part of the fundamental right to life and libert guaranteed and preserved under our Constitution.
  • Abdul Rehman Antulay Vs RS Nayak, (1992): Right to speedy trial is implicit in Article 21 of the Constitution and is also reflected in Section 309 of the CrPC, 1973; that it encompasses all stages.
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