On July 14, the Madras High court passed an order in a case that when an accused person is already on bail, a prisoner’s transit warrant cannot be converted into an ordinary warrant.
The petitioner was an accused in multiple cases at different cities. First, in 2003, he was charged for an offence in the Salem sessions court under section 302. Subsequently, he was granted bail on certain conditions by the session court. In the meantime, in 2007, he was arrested by Periyakulam police in another case and was then remanded in Madurai prison, but later got transferred to Trichy prison for administrative reasons. Later, another case was filed against the petitioner in sub-divisional judicial magistrate court in Korakpur, Orissa on 24.01.2008. Upon conviction in the Korakpur case, the petitioner was transferred from Trichy prison to Orissa prison by a PT warrant issued by the sub-divisional judicial magistrate. The Salem sessions court wrote multiple queries to the Korakpur court for ensuring the accused’s availability for hearing., but there was no response. Subsequently, the petitioner was acquitted in the Korakpur case.
Hence the PT warrant was returned because the accused was acquitted in the Korakpur case and he was on bail in the present case (Salem case). Finally, the accused appeared before the Salem sessions court on 7.4.2011. But the accused failed to appear again in a subsequent hearing on 29.11.2011. Therefore a non-bailable warrant was issued against the accused in the Salem sessions court. But the warrant was not executed till 2016. On 1.10.2016, the accused was arrested, and the accused was then brought to appear before the Salem sessions court on PT warrant. Questions which arise are whether the PT warrant can be converted into an ordinary warrant and the accused can be remanded for judicial custody; whether a bail granted by a high court can be cancelled by subordinate court; when an accused appears before a court by a PT warrant, all the proceedings against him must put together for a speedy trial, and in the event of not doing so, whether the proceeding against him stands vitiated.
The court held that a PT warrant could never be converted into an ordinary warrant, and a PT warrant should not be treated as an order of remand. In respect of the second issue, the court held that a subordinate court could cancel the bail of a higher court only when there was a stipulation in the order of the higher court specifying the right of the lower court. Concerning the third issue, the court held that when an accused appears before a court, all the proceedings must be taken together, and the trial must be completed as soon as possible. But the proceedings against the accused are not vitiated because of not merging the cases since there is no obligation on the part of the court to merge all the cases against the petitioner and initiate proceedings against the petitioner. It is only an option for the court and not an obligation. Hence the sessions court is justified in its actions.
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