Observing that there can be “absolutely no justification for delays in verification of sureties”, a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw directed Delhi Police, including Jail Superintendants and SHOs, to “complete process of verification of local sureties within 10 days and outstation sureties latest within three weeks”.
“Our direction aforesaid should not be understood as giving time of 10 days and three weeks, as the case may be, for verification. The process of verification, should be immediate, maximum within 24 hours, as there is absolutely no justification” for the State to keep a prisoner who has been granted bail for its own delays.
“The time limit fixed by us is the maximum and which maximum is to be availed of only in difficult cases and not to be made a norm. It should not be that verifications which now are being done sooner, are also delayed,” the court said.
It also said the police officer on whose account process of verification is delayed, shall be liable for departmental action.
“An incarcerated ordered to be released on bail, once has furnished the bail bond with sureties, ought not to remain behind bars even for a minute more than necessary. No grounds, for shortage of personnel to conduct verification or non availability of surety when visited by such personnel or the like can constitute a reason in law therefor.
“The State ought to ensure the infrastructure necessary for such verification within the minimum possible time and there can be no reason, sufficient enough for denying such a person his liberty,” the court said, while disposing of a PIL initiated on the letter of a Special CBI Judge who had flagged the issue of inordinate delay in verification of sureties.
The judge in his letter had said that the release of prisoners who were granted bail was being unduly delayed owing to the slow process of verification of sureties.
The letter had also stated that the time taken in the verification of sureties varied from three to 64 days.