The Supreme Court directed all the courts in the judicial hierarchy to hear and efficiently dispose all pending bail applications, in its order granting interim bail to Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami.
The division bench comprising of Justices DY Chandrachud and Indira Banerjee, in its judgement, referred to the statistics of the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG) that show the number of bail applications that are pending before the High Courts and various subordinate courts.
The statistical information showed that a large number, that is 91,568 bail applications, are currently pending before the High Courts, whereas 1,96,861 such pleas are pending before district courts. The Supreme Court observed that the NJDG information was an important instrument that facilitated access to justice, especially in matters that concerned liberty. They urged the Chief Justices of High Courts to make use of the data in order to democratise access to justice.
The Court stated that the Chief Justices of all High Courts should ensure democratized and equitably allocated access to justice by including the ICT tools at their disposal. The Bench also highlighted the pressing need of all Courts under the hierarchy to resolve the institutional problem of bail applications that are left unheard or inefficiently disposed.
Additionally, the need to monitor pendency in the district judiciary was emphasised to the administrative judges that are in charge of district courts. The Supreme Court called upon every court in the country to address the existing problem of numerous pending bail applications. The judgment authored by Justice Chandrachud stressed that considering numbers given by the NJDG data, there is a necessity for courts all over the country’s judicial hierarchy to resolve this institutional issue of bail applications not being heard in a timely manner and disposed of expeditiously.
In conclusion, the bench observed that it was their earnest hope that courts in India will display acute awareness to the requirement of expanding the footprint of liberty. The bench hopes that their approach can be utilised as a decision-making yardstick for future matters that involve the granting of bail.