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Hussainara Khatoon & Ors. V Home Secretary, State of Bihar (1979)

Citation: 1979 AIR 1369

Court: Supreme Court of India

Bench: Bhagwati, P.N., Pathak, R.S. Koshal, A.D


Hussainara Khatoon & Ors. Is a landmark case, determined on ninth March 1979, which furnished a much wider interpretation for Article 21 and held that rapid trial is the essential proper of each citizen. It is the maximum well-known case which discusses the human rights of prisoners in India. The honourable Supreme Court talked about that the State ought to make certain loose felony resource and a rapid trial for the management of justice.


An article changed into posted withinside the newspaper Indian Express in 1979 concerning the detention of beneathneath-trial prisoners withinside the Bihar jail. Few of those beneathneath trial prisoners have been serving in jail for a completely lengthy time, in fact, a length longer than their real span of imprisonment offered through the courts.

Advocate Pushpa Kapila Hingorani changed into one among the readers of the item and filed a case as Public Interest Litigation withinside the Supreme Court of India. This changed into the primary mentioned case of PIL in India and Advocate Pushpa Kapila Hingorani is seemed as the `Mother of Public Interest Litigation in India`.


A writ petition of habeas corpus changed into filed beneathneath Article 32 earlier than the Court for the discharge of 17 beneathneath-trial prisoners whose names have been stated withinside the newspaper article withinside the nation of Bihar. The nation of Bihar changed into directed to report a revised chart displaying the year-clever break-up of the beneathneath-trial prisoners after dividing them into large classes viz. Charged with minor offences and the alternative with most important offences.


If the proper to rapid trial be taken into consideration part of Article 21?

Can the supply of loose felony resource be enforced through the law?


It changed into asserted withinside the counter-affidavit produced on the Court that many beneathneath-trial prisoners, constrained withinside the Patna Central Jail, the Muzaffarpur Central Jail and the Ranchi Central Jail earlier than their launch had been often produced earlier than the Magistrates severe instances and had been remanded to judicial custody as wished.

However, the Court discovered those claims unsatisfactory as they do now no longer observe the order to provide the dates on which those beneathneath-trial prisoners have been remanded.

Moreover, to justify the pendency of instances, it’s been contended that during nearly 10% of the instances, the research is held up because of put off in receipt of reviews from experts.


The Court directed that those beneathneath-trial detainees whose names and have been given withinside the listing recorded through Mrs Hingorani must be launched as in addition detainment of these people changed into taken into consideration unlawful and brushing off their essential proper beneathneath Article 21 of the Constitution due to the fact that they had been in jail for a span surpassing the best time period that they must had been indicted for.

The courtroom docket observed, “What religion can those misplaced souls have withinside the judicial device which denies them a naked trial for such a lot of years and continues them in the back of bars, now no longer due to the fact they’re guilty, however due to the fact they’re too negative to find the money for bail and the courts don’t have any time to strive them”.

The Court likewise coordinated that on the subsequent remand dates, whilst the under trial detainees, accused of bailable offences, are added earlier than the Magistrates, the State Government must designate a attorney at its very own rate for creating a bail application, proscribing remand and with a factor that speedy trial can commence.

The State Government and High Court have been required to provide details of the vicinity of the courts of magistrates and courts of classes withinside the State of Bihar along side the whole instances pending in every courtroom docket as of thirty first December 1978.

They have been moreover wished to reveal why the disposal of these instances which have been pending for extra than six months now no longer possible.


Speedy trial is a constitutionally assured proper withinside the United States.

Article three of the European Convention on Human Rights additionally offers that someone arrested or detained will be entitled to an ordeal inside an affordable length. Therefore, the courtroom docket believed that “Speedy trial is of the essence of crook justice and there may be no question that put off in trial through itself constitutes a denial of justice.”

Hence the proper to a rapid trial changed into seemed as a essential proper of the prisoner beneathneath Article 21 of the constitution. The danger of a number of them being acquitted of the offences charged in opposition to them but having long past via pretty an extended even as in jail for offences which they’re finally discovered now no longer to have devoted is a gross violation in their freedom.

The courtroom docket changed into additionally of the opinion that the then bail device that existed in India changed into biased in the direction of the negative who can’t regularly set up for a attorney to plead for them and recommended for a drastic change. A device that deprives the negative to be legally represented can’t be taken into consideration as simply and fair.

The State can’t deny the constitutional proper to a rapid trial to the accused through pleading economic or administrative lack of ability and it changed into excessive time the device of bails on private bonds just like the ones in western international locations have been introduced.

According to the courtroom docket, even as offering bails on private bonds, the roots of the accused withinside the network changed into to be taken into consideration which could save you him from fleeing, which includes:

The period of his house within side the network, His employment status, records and his economic condition, His own circle of relatives and his relationships, His reputation, individual and intellectual condition, His report of convictions and report of look at courtroom docket proceedings.

The identification of accountable individuals of the network who could vouch for his reliability, The nature of the offence charged and possibility of conviction, Any different component indicating the binds of the accused to the network or bearing at the hazard of wilful failure to appear.


The importance of this case is reflected in the fact that nearly 40,000 prisoners being remanded were released following this ruling. The case motivated various social activists and advocates to speak out on behalf of the underprivileged and use a wide range of public interest proceedings to seek justice.


Read Full Text of Judgment Here:

[1] 1979 AIR 1369

This article is written by Sankalp Mirani of MNLU Mumbai.

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