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SC Order: Half Of Judges Must Sit On Alternate Days To Hear Bail Petitions

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday advocated that at least half of the judges should sit on alternate days during the COVID-19 pandemic situation so that those in distress get a hearing.

A vacation bench of Justices Hemant Gupta and V Ramasubramanian observed that non-listing of regular bail petitions impinges upon liberty of the person in custody.

Justices Gupta and Ramasubramanian expressed “shock” over a bail plea filed in Punjab and Haryana High Court not being listed for hearing for over a year.

“Even during the pandemic, when all courts are making attempts to hear and decide all matter, non-listing of such an application for bail defeats the administration of justice,” the bench remarked.

“Under the prevailing pandemic, at least half of the judges should sit on alternative days so that hearing is accorded to the person in distress,” the bench said in the order.

Supreme Court was hearing a plea against an order by which the request for hearing of a bail application, pending since February 28, 2020, was declined by the high court.

“Normally, we do not interfere with an interim order passed by the high court but we are constrained to pass the present order as we are shocked to see that the bail application under section 439 CrPC is not being listed for hearing for more than one year,” the bench said.

“The accused has a right to hearing of his application for bail. In fact, the denial of hearing is an infringement of right and liberty assured to an accused,” the bench said.

“We hope that the high court will be able to take up the application for bail at an early date so that the right of the accused of hearing of application for bail is not taken away by not entertaining such application on the mentioning memo,” it said.