Andhra Pradesh High Court in the case of Korra Bhaskara Rao v. The State of Andhra Pradesh pointed out that by reason of staff shortage, it was difficult to issue the certified order copies while granting bail to an accused under The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
Recently, the Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana had stated that the prison authorities should not delay the release of prisoners by reason of waiting for the certified court orders to be delivered to them. He insisted on a system of electronic transfer of bail orders to the prisons directly. In this regard, a scheme called FASTER- Fast and Secure Transmission of Electronic Record is currently under consideration.
The Andhra High Court said – “Protection of personal liberty of an individual is undeniably a constitutional duty of this Court. Our criminal justice system always gives paramount consideration to the protection of the rights of the accused. Article 21 of the Constitution of India mandates that the personal liberty of an accused can be curtailed only after strict compliance with the procedure established by law.”
It further mentioned, “Mere emphasizing that an accused has an indefeasible fundamental right to bail itself is not sufficient without furnishing the copy of the order. This is high time the Courts shall address these issues with a progressive approach by adopting the innovative methods.”
Thereby, the Court issued 9-point guidelines as under:
a. Parties/Advocates shall download the order copy from the High Court’s Website along with case details which are available in the case status information.
b. While filing the memo on behalf of the accused of furnishing sureties, the Advocate shall State in the memo that he/she has downloaded the order copy from the High Court’s Website. The concerned Administrative Officer / Chief Ministerial Officer of the Court shall verify the order from the High Court’s Website and make an endorsement to that effect and then shall place the same before the Court.
c. The Public Prosecutor shall also obtain necessary instructions in this regard and assist the Court.
d. The Presiding Officer on the same day shall dispose of the same and dispatch the release order to the concerned jail authorities forthwith through email or any other electronic mode.
e. In cases of anticipatory bail, the burden to verify the authenticity of the copy is on the concerned Station House Officer, and if necessary, he should obtain necessary instructions from the Public Prosecutor’s Office and complete the process on the same day expeditiously as per law.
f. Registrar (Judicial) shall communicate a copy of this order to (1) The Principal Secretary for Home Affairs, Andhra Pradesh; (2) The Director-General of Police, Andhra Pradesh; (3) The Director of Prosecution, who in turn shall sensitize the Police Officers / Station House Officers / Public Prosecutors and ensure implementation of this order.
g. Registrar (Judicial) shall communicate a copy of this order to all the Principal District Judges in the State, who in turn shall sensitize all the Presiding Officers and ensure implementation of this order.
h. Registrar (Judicial) is further directed to circulate the copy of this order to all the Bar Associations through the Principal District Judges so that they can effectively address their clients’ cause.
i. Registrar (Judicial) shall also issue a separate notification in this regard, and the same shall be displayed on the High Court’s Website.
Finally, the Court directed the Judicial Officers in the State to bring to the notice of the Registrar (Judicial) the issues/hitches in implementing the directions.
Thus, these guidelines are a step in the right direction to ensure a speedy adjudication process without which access to justice will only be an illusion.
Written by – Abhilasha S G