Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 2
Amid controversy over the urgent hearing of bail pleas of journalist Arnab Goswami and some others, a response to an RTI query has revealed that nearly 1,070 pleas for bail and suspension of sentence were pending in the Supreme Court as on December 18, 2020.
Responding to an RTI query filed by activist Saket Gokhale, Supreme Court’s Central Public Information Officer Ajay Agarwal, in his December 18 reply, stated that 931 matters relating to bail — regular, interim and anticipatory — and 141 petitions for the suspension of sentence were pending before the top court.
Agarwal, however, declined to furnish information with regard to an average waiting period between filing and listing of an interim bail application, saying, “The information/data is not maintained in the manner as sought for.”
The officer advised Gokhale to visit the court’s website “for getting the desired information”. He stated that “all matters are listed/eliminated/deleted as per guidelines, practice and procedure which are available in public domain through website www.sci.gov.in under the link “Practice & Procedure” and also in accordance with the circulars and general and specific directions of the court.”
In the recent past, the top court had given urgent hearing to pleas of journalists Arnab Goswami and Vinod Dua and activist-lawyer Prashant Bhushan and granted them protection from coercive action by the police.
In May last year, the court had granted protection from coercive action to Bhushan in connection with an FIR lodged against him at Rajkot for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Hindus.
In June 2020, the Supreme Court had assembled on Sunday and granted Dua protection from arrest in connection with an FIR registered in Shimla at the instance of Ajay Shyam, leader of the Himachal BJP, who had filed a criminal complaint against the senior journalist, accusing him of instigating violence against the government by allegedly spreading fake news.
Earlier, Dushyant Dave, president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, had questioned the urgent listing of Goswami’s petition challenging a Bombay High Court order denying him interim bail in an abetment to suicide case by the Supreme Court.