Apex court laments trial delays on flimsy grounds


New Delhi : The Supreme Court has lamented as the “sorry state of affairs” the fact that trial courts are for years prevented from disposing criminal cases as higher courts restrain the proceedings on flimsy grounds.

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An apex court bench of Justice J.M. Panchal and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra made the observation while hearing a case related to a two decades old murder in Uttar Pradesh.

“The facts mentioned in the petition exhibit the sorry state of affairs going on in the trial court where the court has not been able to complete the trial with reference to an incident of murder which took place on June 19, 1990 — more than 20 years from today,” the court said Monday.

“The records show that the accused have been successful in delaying the trial by obtaining stay order from the high court on flimsy grounds,” the court said.

The court gave vent to its anguish after senior counsel R.P. Singh and advocate Rajeev Kumar Bansal sought a stay on an Allahabad High Court order restraining a sessions judge from pronouncing the verdict in the murder case.

In the case, June 19, 1990, petitioner Ajit Pratap Singh and his father were constructing a boundary wall over their land in Gorakhpur Cantonment when they were fired at by some attackers led by Gopal Yadav, the prime accused.

In the firing, Ajit Pratap Singh’s father suffered head injury and later died of his injuries.

During the 20-year-long litigation, the trial took many twists and turns before the sessions court decided to pass the verdict. But just before it gave its decision, an accused moved the high court and got an interim stay on the pronouncement of the verdict.

The apex court while staying the interim order of the high court issued notice to seven respondents returnable in two weeks.

The apex court directed the additional sessions judge of Gorakhpur to dispose of the trial within a week.

It also directed the trial court judge “not to grant any adjournment in the case to any party to the case and dispose of the trial as indicated above”.

The court directed its registry to communicate its order to the high court and the session court by telephone and by fax.