The Supreme Court has questioned the compulsion to put people in jail for years on end in drugs cases even as their trial takes forever to finish.
A Bench led by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana granted bail to a man caught in a room with 35 kg ganja by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).
The court said the man has been in jail for years and “there is no likelihood of completion of trial in the near future”.
“What is the need of trial if you are putting people in jail for years?” Chief Justice Ramana asked during the recent hearing.
The Bench had just learnt that the accused had already spent four years in jail as an undertrial. He has been in custody since October 16, 2017.
The Bench noted that the man was a senior citizen of 66 years and he cannot spend time behind bars waiting for justice to arrive with the end of his trial.
“How many years can he be kept in jail without trial?” the CJI asked the government side.
When the government lawyer said five years, the CJI shot back, “Why five? Keep him for 10... Then there is no need for a trial.”
The Bench said it was even doubtful, at this pace, whether the man would even survive the trial if he continued in jail.
“He is already 66 years, by the time you complete your trial, he will not be there,” the CJI said.
The accused had appealed to the Supreme Court after the Calcutta High Court had refused to grant him bail last year.
“The petitioner is directed to be released on bail, subject to such terms and conditions which the Trial Court concerned shall deem fit and appropriate to impose upon him,” the apex court ordered.