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Allahabad HC asks: Can an accused be kept in custody indefinitely, because trial court cannot function due to Covid?

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New Delhi (ILNS): The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court has expressed concern over the delay in proceedings in trial Courts as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, saying that an Accused individual could not be incarcerated indefinitely.

A bench of Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan made the observation on the bail application of one Ram Niwas alias Nankan.

Advocate Manoj Mishra argued that the Applicant had been in judicial custody in a dowry death case for more than one and-a-half years.

Additional District and Sessions Judge, F.T.C.-I, Gonda has submitted status report dated 5.11.2020, which indicates that the charge has already been framed on 26.3.2019.

Thereafter, the trial proceedings are held up due to COVID-19 situation, however, date has been fixed for examination of witness as 26.11.2020.

The Court observed that if the report is accepted on its face value, then inference may be drawn that the trial Court is unable to proceed the trial on account of COVID-19 situation. If the trial Court is unable to proceed the trial then there may not be any logical reason to keep the accused under judicial custody inasmuch as it appears that COVID-19 situation is not going to be controlled in days to come.

The bench posed a query earlier than the state lawyer as to whether liberty of the accused could also be curtailed when the trial courts are unable to proceed the trial. The basic proper granted to each citizen underneath Article 21 of the Constitution of India will not be denied, further observed by the Court.

“AGA may seek specific instructions from the learned trial court as well as from the Law Department of the State of U.P. as to whether in absence of trial, liberty of the accused-applicant may be curtailed, if so, what may be the logical reasons to that effect,” reads the order.

The matter is posted for December 7 for further hearing.

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  1. From the days of acquittal of Amit Shah it gives me the impression that judgements are not based on facts of the case but based on the proximity of the accused’s influence over judiciary.

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