Supreme end. Even a delay of one

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Supreme Court has ruled that under Article 21 the procedure used to deprive one of one’s liberty has to be reasonable, fair and just. Therefore, any procedure used to arrest or punish, if not just, fair and reasonable, violates Article 21. Courts are vested with discretionary power to let the accused out on bail. But that is no answer to the need of speedy trial. There are many under trial prisoners in jail who continue to remain there simply because they cannot afford a lawyer to prove their innocence or get them out on bail. In a number of cases the Supreme Court of India issued directions and framed guidelines so that trials could be conducted at a satisfactory pace.

It is a sad reflection on the legal and judicial system that the trial of an accused does not even commence for years on end. Even a delay of one year in the commencement of trial is bad enough, how much worse, then, would it be when delay is as long as 3, 5, 7 and even 10 years. Speedy trial is the essence of criminal justice and it has been said often enough that justice delayed is justice denied.

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