January 27, 2023

Constitutional Right to speedy trial

This article has been written by Ms. Ishika Sharma, a 1st Year B.COM LLB student from Gujarat National Law University.


According to the Oxford dictionary, a speedy trial can be as – “a criminal trial held after minimal delay, as considered to be a citizen’s constitutional right.”

The idea behind the Right to Speedy Trial is to resolve matters as quickly as possible to improve the effectiveness and reliability of the judiciary. Creating a culture of justice in society is the primary goal of the right to a speedy trial. Human rights are necessary because of human life. It is crucial to provide every person with a life that is at least somewhat respectable since we live in a civilized society that is governed by law and a system of rules. Therefore, every right is a human right since it enables a person to live their best possible life. Giving victims of crimes justice is the fundamental reason that any state institution establishes a court system. The Indian Constitution places a great on on the judicial system to provide a legal framework to address issues relating to delivering justice. The establishment of an independent judicial system, the inclusion of fundamental rights, and guiding principles for state policies all demonstrate the dedication of our constitution’s authors to ensuring that the judicial system functions as an effective part of the state apparatus on which people can rely in confidence and with a sense of justice. A speedy trial is a fundamental right that is implied in the protection of life and personal liberty included in Article 21 of the Constitution. 


The Magna Carta, a key piece of English law, is where the right to a speedy trial is first mentioned. No one “should be deprived of his life or personal liberty unless in accordance with the method established down by law,” according to Article 21. The bail petition in Babu Singh v. State of UP1 was heard by Legal Krishna Iyer, who made the following observation: “Our justice system even in grave cases, suffers from slow motion syndrome which is lethal to ‘fair trial’ whatever the ultimate decision. Speedy justice is a component of social justice since the community, as a whole, is concerned in the criminal being condignly and finally punished within a reasonable time and the innocent being absolved from the inordinate ordeal of criminal proceedings.” 

Right to speedy trial under Article 21

In Hussainara Khatoon v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar, the Apex Court determined that the “right to a speedy trial” is an essential freedom that is contained in the rights to life and personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. In its ruling, the court imposed stricter bail requirements, more humane living conditions, and a significantly shorter window between arrest and trial. No method, according to the court’s interpretation of the Maneka Gandhi case, can be considered reasonable, fair, or just if it does not assure a reasonable swift trial. The Bihar Government was therefore instructed to immediately release the inmates awaiting trial on their bail.

Reason behind delays in speedy trials

In the criminal justice system, a rapid trial is primarily intended to prevent the accused from needless detention before his conviction and to guarantee justice for the victim. Therefore, the need for a rapid trial developed due to needless delays in the resolution of cases. Champalal Punjaji v. State of Maharashtra (1981) made the following observation: “In determining whether the right to a speedy trial has been denied, the Court is entitled to consider whether the delay was unintentional, caused by overcrowding of the court’s docket or understaffing of the prosecutors and whether the accused contributed a fairly substantial amount to the time taken”. Several factors might be to blame for the trial’s postponement.

● The number of judges now available is extremely low when taking into account the population of the nation and the backlog of cases.

● Although the judiciary is autonomous in how it operates, this does not absolve it of accountability. In light of this, it may be said that it encourages judges to engage in leisure and comfort, which eventually causes cases to be delayed. A key recommendation of the 1996 Woolf report was to hold the court responsible by creating reliable judicial data.

● Adjournment provision: The court’s poor reasons for granting adjournments are the primary cause of the cases’ delays. Adjournments and the court’s ability to postpone the hearing are covered under Section 309 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and Rule 1, Order XVII of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC).

● Court vacation: There is a controversy around the idea of giving courts a break during a time when there are a great number of cases pending in a country like India. Most nations, including the United States and France, do not have this clause.

● Laws and statutes on many subjects that were passed in a hurry and with poor draught quality in part contribute to the increase in instances.

Measures to prevent such delays:

● Time scheduling needs to be done in order to effectively manage time, which will then effectively manage the legal system.

● In order to improve their drafting, listening, and writing abilities, as well as their ability to provide accurate and timely judgments, judges should be given the appropriate training and opportunities on a frequent basis.

● In addition, there should be more judges per 1,000 people, which would speed up case resolution.

● Cases must be assigned in accordance with the judges’ areas of expertise.

● Arbitration should be used wherever feasible and in particular, should be made mandatory in small and minor disputes. It will help the courts save valuable time.

● Nyaya Panchayats must have the ability to handle minor problems. However, Lok Adalats were created to expedite the resolution of matters at the lowest levels of court. 

● The adjournment system should be changed so that it is restricted, and a fee should be levied on anybody who requests an adjournment for weak reasons.


The right to a quick trial must be respected since it is a constitutional truth and not just a myth. It has already been acknowledged by both the legislation and the courts as a means of relieving the mounting court burdens. This Sixth Amendment promise is an essential aspect of the Bill of Rights and an essential part of our legal legacy because of the impact that a timely trial has on both the defendant and society at large. The criminal justice system’s persistent delays and continuations prohibit victims from ever finding financial, physical, or emotional relief from the pain they endured as a result of the crimes committed against them.

Although there are no explicit requirements for a fast trial, the Supreme Court has ruled that the accused has the right to one under the judicial interpretation of article 21 of the constitution. The swift resolution of the matter and the appearance of justice are in the best interests of all parties involved. The Supreme Court noted in Abdul Rehman v. R.S. Nayak that the court finally decides whether or not the right to a timely trial has been violated.

Aishwarya Says:

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