• Supreme Court rulings on delay in investigation of a crime

Please cite Supreme Court rulings where it may have been held that undue delay in investigations by a investigating agency may against fundamental righ to justice.
Asked 4 years ago in Criminal Law
Religion: Hindu

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SC in case of Dilawar v/ state of Haryana has held that No investigating agency can take unduly long time in completing the investigation. Speedy investigation is recognized as a part of a fundamental right of fair procedure under Article 21 of the Constitution.”

Ajay Sethi
Advocate, Mumbai
87895 Answers
6207 Consultations

5.0 on 5.0

Sakiri Vasu v. State of U.P., (2008) 2 SCC 409: The Supreme Court has held in this case that if there is inordinate delay in completion of investigation then the magistrate has power under section 156 of the code of criminal procedure to monitor the investigation and pass any appropriate order which is expedient in the interest of justice to conclude the investigation as soon as possible .

Shivendra Pratap Singh
Advocate, Lucknow
5127 Answers
78 Consultations

4.9 on 5.0

1.https://indiankanoon.org/doc/50084094/ (Supreme Court)

2. In the case Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab, reported in (1994) 3 SCC 569, the Apex Court held therein that "the concept of speedy trial is read into Art.21 as an essential part of the fundamental right to life and liberty guaranteed and preserved under our Constitution". In the celebrated case in Hussainara Khatoon & Ors v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar reported in (1980) 1 SCC 81, the Apex Court held as thus: "No procedure which does not ensure a reasonably quick trial can be regarded as 'reasonable, fair or just' and it would fall foul of Article21. There can, therefore, be no doubt that speedy trial, meaning thereby reasonably expeditious trial, is an integral and essential part of the fundamental right to life and liberty enshrined in Article 21." Further, the Constitution Bench in the celebrated case A.R. Antulay & Ors. v. R.S. Nayak & Anr reported in (1992) 1 SCC 225, the Apex Court has laid down 11 propositions, which are almost the Magna Carta in the matter of fair and expeditious conduct of criminal trial. The said 11 propositions laid down by the Constitution Bench of the Apex Court in A.R. Antulay's case supra are as follows:

"(1) Fair, just and reasonable procedure implicit in Article 21 of the Constitution creates a right in the accused to be tried speedily. Right to speedy trial is the right of the accused. The fact that a speedy trial is also in public interest or that it serves the social interest also, does not make it any the less the right of the accused. It is in the interest of all concerned that the guilt or innocence of the accused is determined as W.P.(C).No. 27197/14 - : 15 :-

quickly as possible in the circumstances.

(2) Right to speedy trial flowing from Article 21 encompasses all the stages, namely the stage of investigation, inquiry, trial, appeal, revision and re-trial. That is how, this Court has understood this right and there is no reason to take a restricted view.

(3) The concerns underlying the right to speedy trial from the point of view of the accused are:

(a) the period of remand and pre-conviction detention should be as short as possible. In other words, the accused should not be subjected to unnecessary or unduly long incarceration prior to his conviction;

(b) the worry, anxiety, expense and disturbance to his


prolonged investigation, resulting orfrom

and peace, an unduly

inquiry trial should be

minimal; and

(c) undue delay may well result in impairment of the

ability of the accused to defend himself, whether on account of death, disappearance or non-availability of witnesses or otherwise.

(4) At the same time, one cannot ignore the fact that it is usually the accused who is interested in delaying the proceedings. As is often pointed out, "delay is a known defence tactic". Since the burden of proving the guilt of the accused lies upon the prosecution, delay ordinarily prejudices the prosecution. Non- availability of witnesses, disappearance of evidence by lapse of time really work against the interest of the prosecution. Of course, there may be cases where the prosecution, for whatever reason, also delays the proceedings. Therefore, in every case, where the right to speedy trial is alleged to have been infringed, the first question to be put and answered is --

who is responsible for the delay? Proceedings taken by either party in good faith, to vindicate their rights and interest, as perceived by them, cannot be treated as delaying tactics nor can the time taken in pursuing such proceedings be counted towards proceedings or proceedings taken merely for delayingfrivolous delay. It goes without saying that the day of reckoning cannot be treated as proceedings taken in good faith. The mere fact that an application/petition is admitted and an order of stay granted by a superior court is by itself no proof that the proceeding is not frivolous. Very often these W.P.(C).No. 27197/14 - : 16 :-

stays are obtained on ex parte representation.

(5) While determining whether undue delay has occurred (resulting in violation of Right to Speedy Trial) one must have regard to all the attendant circumstances, including nature of offence, number of accused and witnesses, the workload of the court concerned, prevailing local conditions and so on -- what is called, the systemic delays. It is true that it is the obligation of the State to ensure a speedy trial and State includes judiciary as well, but a realistic and practical approach should be adopted in such matters instead of a pedantic one.

(6) Each and every delay does not necessarily prejudice the accused. Some delays may indeed work to his advantage. As has been observed by Powell, J. in Barker22 "it cannot be said how long a delay is too long in a system where justice is supposed to be swift but deliberate". The same idea has been stated by White, J. in U.S. v. Ewell38 in the following words:

`... the Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial is necessarily relative, is consistent with delays, and has orderly expedition, rather than mere speed, as its essential ingredients; and whether delay in completing a prosecution amounts to an unconstitutional deprivation of rights depends upon all the circumstances.' However, inordinately long delay may be taken as presumptive proof of prejudice. In this context, the fact of incarceration of accused will also be a relevant fact. The prosecution should not be allowed to become a persecution. But when does the prosecution become persecution, again depends upon the facts of a given case.

(7) We cannot recognize or give effect to, what is called the `demand' rule. An accused cannot try himself; he is tried by the court at the behest of the prosecution. Hence, an accused's plea of denial of speedy trial cannot be defeated by saying that the accused did at no time demand a speedy trial. If in a given case, he did make such a demand and yet he was not tried speedily, it would be a plus point in his favour, but the mere non-asking for a speedy trial cannot be put against the accused. Even in USA, the relevance of demand rule has been substantially watered down in Barker and other succeeding cases.

(8) Ultimately, the court has to balance and weigh the several

W.P.(C).No. 27197/14 - : 17 :-

relevant factors -- `balancing test' or `balancing process' -- and determine in each case whether the right to speedy trial has been denied in a given case.

(9) Ordinarily speaking, where the court comes to the conclusion that right to speedy trial of an accused has been infringed the charges or the conviction, as the case may be, shall be quashed. But this is not the only course open. The nature of the offence and other circumstances in a given case may be such that quashing of proceedings may not be in the interest of justice. In such a case, it is open to the court to make such other appropriate order -- including an order to conclude the trial within a fixed time where the trial is not concluded or reducing the sentence where the trial has concluded -- as may be deemed just and equitable in the circumstances of the case.

(10) It is neither advisable nor practicable to fix any time-limit for trial of offences. Any such rule is bound to be qualified one. Such rule cannot also be evolved merely to shift the burden of proving justification on to the shoulders of the prosecution. In every case of complaint of denial of right to speedy trial, it is primarily for the prosecution to justify and explain the delay. At the same time, it is the duty of the court to weigh all the circumstances of a given case before pronouncing upon the complaint. The Supreme Court of USA too has repeatedly refused to fix any such outer time-limit in spite of the Sixth Amendment. Nor do we think that not fixing any such outer limit ineffectuates the guarantee of right to speedy trial.

(11) An objection based on denial of right to speedy trial and for relief on that account, should first be addressed to the High Court. Even if the High Court entertains such a plea, ordinarily it should not stay the proceedings, except in a case of grave and exceptional nature. Such proceedings in High Court must, however, be disposed of on a priority basis."

Later, due to conflict regarding the setting of outer time limit for conclusion of criminal proceedings in rulings of the Apex Court as in Common Cause Case reported (1996) 4 SCC 33 and Raj Deo Sharma (ii) reported in (1999) 7 SCC 604, the matter was considered W.P.(C).No. 27197/14 - : 18 :-

3(Very Important)

n the case Pankaj Kumar v. State of Maharashtra & Ors. reported in (2008) 16 SCC 117, the Apex Court has held in paragraphs 23 to 28 therein, that in every case where the right to speedy trial is alleged to have been infringed, the court has to perform the balancing act upon taking into consideration all the attendant circumstances and determine in each case, whether the W.P.(C).No. 27197/14 - : 22 :-

right to speedy trial has been denied in a given case. Where the court comes to the conclusion that the right to speedy trial of an accused has been infringed, the charges or the conviction, may be quashed, unless the court feels that having regard to the nature of offence and other relevant circumstances, quashing of proceedings may not be in the interest of justice. In such situation, it is open to the court to make an appropriate order as it may deem fit and equitable including fixation of time for conclusion of trial. In the light of these aspects, the Apex Court held therein that the appellant's constitutional rights recognised under Art.21 of the Constitution stood violated and that FIR was recorded on 12.5.1987 for the offences allegedly committed in the year 1981 and after unwarranted prolonged investigations involving three alleged financial irregularities, the charge sheet was submitted before the court only on 22.2.1991. That nothing happened till April 1991, when the appellant and his deceased mother filed Writ Petition seeking quashment of the proceedings before the trial court. Though the plea with regard to the inordinate delay in investigation and trial was raised by the appellant therein for the first time, their Lordships of the Supreme Court held that at that distant point of W.P.(C).No. 27197/14 - : 23 :-

time it would be most unfair to the appellant therein to remit the matter back to the High Court after examining the said plea of the appellant. Moreover, the learned counsel for the State fairly stated therein that he had no explanation to offer for the delay in the investigation and the reason why the trial did not commence for eight long years. Nothing could be shown to attribute that the delay was in any way caused by the appellant therein. The appellant therein was a young boy of 18 years of age in the year 1981 when the alleged acts of omission and commission were allegedly committed by the concerns managed by his parents, who had since died. The Apex Court observed that there will be extreme mental stress and strain of prolonged investigation by the Anti Corruption Bureau and the Sword of Damocles is hanging perilously over his head for over fifteen years, which must have wrecked his entire career. The prosecution has also failed to show any exceptional circumstance, which could possibly be taken into consideration for condoning the prolongation of investigation and the trial. In the light of these aspects, the Apex Court held that the valuable constitutional right of the appellant for speedy investigation and trial was grossly violated and therefore the impugned criminal W.P.(C).No. 27197/14 - : 24 :-

proceedings in that case were quashed..

Shubham Jhajharia
Advocate, Ahmedabad
25516 Answers
179 Consultations

5.0 on 5.0

Hema v. State, (2013) 10 SCC 192:  fair and proper investigation is a fundamental right under article 21 of the Constitution of India

Shivendra Pratap Singh
Advocate, Lucknow
5127 Answers
78 Consultations

4.9 on 5.0


There are various such judgments. The recent one is : M.A. NO.267 OF 2017 IN SLP (CRL.) NO.657 OF 2017 titled Dilawar vs State of haryana.

Ganesh Singh
Advocate, New Delhi
6646 Answers
16 Consultations

4.5 on 5.0

Refer to the judgment available at the following link:


Right to speedy trial is held to be a fundamental right in number of cases.


Anilesh Tewari
Advocate, New Delhi
17940 Answers
377 Consultations

5.0 on 5.0

Inordinate Delay To Complete Investigation May Be Taken As Presumptive Proof Of Prejudice, Particularly When Accused Is In Custody: SC...

You can go through the judgment in MA No. 267/2017 in SLP (Crl) 657/2017 decided by supreme court on 31/1/2017 in the matter between Dilawar Vs. Haryana state.

The court observed :

The bench said: “It is clear that even if CBI commenced investigation on 6th October, 2016, one and a half years have already gone by. There is no indication as to what proceedings have been taken by the CBI so far and why more time will be required and how much more time will be required. No investigating agency can take unduly long time in completing the investigation. Speedy investigation is recognized as a part of a fundamental right of fair procedure under Article 21 of the Constitution.” ...

The bench of Justice AK Goel and Justice Indu Malhotra observed that there is certainly a need for in-house mechanism to ensure that there is no undue delay in completing the investigation, and to take remedial steps if there is such undue delay. The. bench made this observation in an order disposing of an application by CBI seeking modification of time limit prescribed in its earlier judgment.

T Kalaiselvan
Advocate, Vellore
78050 Answers
1543 Consultations

5.0 on 5.0

Perhaps this is what you're looking for:


Go through the order passed by the Hon'ble Apex Court which towards the end of the page

Vibhanshu Srivastava
Advocate, New Delhi
9426 Answers
245 Consultations

5.0 on 5.0

Respected sir ...

In case of PUCL vs State of Maharashtra supreme court had issued 16 guidelines and conclusion of that is mention in your question that delay in investigation may affect the case of prosecution and against the fundamental right ...sir if you want fair and sppedy trial you have option available to approach the superior police officers and court ...where there is no need of that such ruling ...

Thank you

Dinesh Sharawat
Advocate, Delhi
1258 Answers
12 Consultations

4.9 on 5.0

Dear Sir,

You need not go so deep into the law. Each case depends upon it own history. Just approach the High Court for delaying FIR, it will pass necessary orders. The delay depends upon different factors but the HC has power to issue direction to Investigating Agency to complete the investigation within time bound.

Kishan Dutt Kalaskar
Advocate, Bangalore
6050 Answers
381 Consultations

4.8 on 5.0

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