Can Time Limit Be A Ground For Terminating The Criminal Proceedings?

Speedy trial and timely justice are integral parts of the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. That is why the popular saying goes “Justice delayed is justice denied”.


Part XXXVI of the Code of Criminal Procedure, containing Sections 467 to 473, endorses distinct limitation periods for taking cognizance of various offences, confinement periods for taking comprehension of different offences, contingent on the gravity of those offences interlinked with the disciplines, individually. The method of reasoning behind the consideration of time of constraint was that the declaration of witnesses gets more vulnerable with the slip by of time and memory and thus the odds of mistakes in decisions increment since the proof gets more fragile. Also, the time of restriction would squeeze the arrangement of the criminal indictment to guarantee that the guilty party is sentenced and rebuffed rapidly to guarantee fast equity. The hindrance impact that the criminal equity framework focuses on, will stand vanquished on the off chance that the discipline has not been conceded before the memory of the offence gets washed off from the leaders of those influenced by it. This Chapter is obviously in consonance with the idea of the reasonableness of preliminary, as cherished in Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The object of the Legislature, while presenting a time of restriction can be discovered from the announcement of the Joint Committee of the Parliament, where it was expressed that:

“These are new provisos endorsing times of constraint on an evaluated scale for propelling a criminal arraignment in specific cases. At present, there is no time of impediment for criminal indictment and a court can’t toss out a grievance or a police report exclusively on the ground of postponement albeit unnecessary deferral might be a ground for engaging questions about reality of the arraignment story. Times of confinement has been endorsed for criminal indictment in the laws of numerous nations and the Committee feels that it will be attractive to recommend such periods in the Code as suggested by the Law Commission”.

Section 68 of the Code of Criminal Procedure sets out the time of impediment for taking awareness of an offence. As indicated by this Section, if an offence is culpable with fine just, the time of constraint will be a half year and if the offence is culpable with detainment for a term that doesn’t surpass one year, the time of confinement is one year. Segment 468, further clarifies that if the offence is culpable with detainment for a term surpassing one year yet not surpassing three years, the time of impediment will be three years. Be that as it may, this Section doesn’t set out the time of restriction for offences culpable with detainment surpassing three years. Which means in this way there is no external breaking point qua the constraint according to the offences having discipline for a long time or more. In this manner, Section 473 of the Code of Criminal Procedure empowers the Court to take perception of an offence after the expiry of the time of confinement, in the event that it is fulfilled on the realities and in the conditions of the case that the postponement has been appropriately clarified or that it is important to do as such in light of a legitimate concern for equity.

In Asst. Customs Collector, Bombay v. L.R. Melwani, AIR (1970) SC 962, 965, the Supreme Court held that:

“The subject of postponement in documenting a protest might be a condition to be contemplated in showing up at the last decision. However, without anyone else, it bears no ground for excusing the consistent”.

The five appointed authorities’ seat of the Supreme Court of India, comprising of P. Sathasivam CJ, Dr B.S.Chauhan, Ranjana P.Desai, Ranjan Gogoi and S.A.Bobde, JJ, for the situation titled as ” Sarah Mathew Vs. Organization of Cardio Vascular Diseases and Ors.”; 2014(2) SCC 62, looked to guarantee equity to the residents of the nation, by finding some kind of harmony between the lawful saying “nullum tempus aut locus occuritregi’, and the legitimate adage ‘vigilantibus et non dormientibus, jurasubveniunt’.

Power of Court to stop proceedings in certain cases (Section 258 Cr.P.C.):

In any summons case organized in any case than upon protest, an officer of the top of the line, or some other legal judge with the past assent of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, may stop the procedures at any phase without articulating any judgment. While halting the procedures the officer will record purposes behind doing so.

The Hon’ble Apex Court in Rang Bahadur Singh V. Territory of U.P. announced in AIR 2000 SC 1209 has held as follows :

“The reliable standard is that exoneration of a liable individual ought to be wanted to the conviction of an honest individual. Except if the indictment builds up the blame of the denounced past sensible uncertainty a conviction can’t be passed on the charged. A criminal court can’t bear to deny freedom of the appellants, long-lasting freedom, without having, at any rate, a sensible degree of assurance that the appellants were the genuine offenders.”


While deciding if undue deferral has happened (coming about in infringement of Right to Speedy Trial) one must have respect to all the chaperon conditions, including nature of the offence, the number of denounced and witnesses, the remaining task at hand of the court concerned, winning neighbourhood conditions, etc what is called, the foundational delays. The facts demonstrate that it is the commitment of the State to guarantee an expedient preliminary and State incorporates legal executive too, however, a sensible and viable methodology ought to be embraced in such issues rather than a hypercritical one.

Every single postponement doesn’t really bias the blamed. A few postponements may be sure to work to further his potential benefit. As has been seen by Powell, J. in Barker “it can’t be said to what extent a deferral is a loo long in a framework where equity should be quick yet intentional”. Be that as it may, extremely long deferral might be taken as possible evidence of preference. In this specific circumstance, the reality of imprisonment of charged will likewise be an applicable actuality. The arraignment ought not to be permitted to turn into abuse. However, when does the indictment become abuse, again relies on the realities of a given case.

We can’t perceive or offer impact to, what is known as the ‘request’ rule. A charged can’t attempt himself; he is attempted by the court at the command of the arraignment. Thus, an accused’s request of forswearing of expedient preliminary can’t be crushed by saying that the denounced did at no time request a quick preliminary. In the event that in a given case, he made such an interest but he was not attempted rapidly, it would be an or more point in support of himself, however, the unimportant non-requesting an expedient preliminary can’t be set against the charged. Indeed, even in the U.S.A., the significance of interest rule has been significantly watered down in Barker and other succeeding cases.

At last, the court needs to adjust and gauge the few important factors-‘adjusting tests’ or ‘adjusting process’- and decide for each situation regardless of whether the privilege to fast preliminary has been denied in a given case.

Customarily, where the court reaches the resolution that Right to fast preliminary of a blamed has encroached the charges or the conviction, all things considered, will be subdued. Be that as it may, this isn’t the main course open. The idea of the offence and different conditions in a given case might be to such an extent that subduing of procedures may not be in light of a legitimate concern for equity.

In such a case, it is available to the court to make such other proper request including a request to close the preliminary inside a fixed time where the preliminary isn’t closed or decreasing the sentence where the preliminary has finished up as might be considered just and impartial in the conditions of the case.

It is neither prudent nor practicable to fix whenever limit for preliminary of offences. Any such guideline will undoubtedly be qualified one. Such principle can’t likewise be advanced only to move the weight of demonstrating legitimization on to the shoulders of the arraignment. For each situation of protest of disavowal of Right to expedient preliminary, it is basically for the arraignment to legitimize and clarify the postponement. At the equivalent time, it is the obligation of the court to gauge all the conditions of a given case before articulating upon the grievance. The Supreme Court of U.S.A. too as more than once would not fix any such external time limit in spite of the Sixth Change. Nor do we believe that not fixing any such external breaking point in effectuates the assurance of Right to fast preliminary.



This article is authored by Shrishti Sharma, Second-Year, B.A. LL.B student at IIMT and School of Law, GGSIPU

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