Reiterating that it was a settled proposition of law that an accused in custody has to be provided with legal assistance either through a counsel hired by the person or through the Legal Services Authority, the Madras High Court set aside the order of the Executive Magistrate cum Deputy Commissioner of Police (DC), Washermenpet, cancelling the bail bond of an accused without providing him with an opportunity to defend himself.
Justice P Velmurugan was passing orders on a criminal revision case moved by Mahesh challenging the order of the DC cancelling his bail bond and directing him to undergo imprisonment for the remaining period as per the bond.
He contended that the Tiruvottiyur police had nabbed him under suspicious circumstances during regular patrolling and booked him under CrPC sections. He was let off after executing a bail bond. But when he was held again under similar circumstances, the DC initiated action against him for allegedly violating the bail bond but without examining him or witnesses.
Pointing out that the petitioner was summoned before the DC through a prisoner’s transit warrant on March 22, while the order cancelling the bail bond was issued on March 24, Justice Velmurugan said this meant that the petitioner was not provided with an opportunity to engage a counsel.
“If the petitioner is not in a position to engage a counsel on his own, it is the bounden duty of the respondents/court to provide legal assistance through Legal Services Authority. In this case, the DC ought to have offered adequate time to engage a counsel to defend him or engage a counsel through Legal Services Authority,” Justice Velmurugan stressed.
Based on this, the court directed the DC to issue fresh summons to the witnesses and dispose of the case within two months.
‘Form panel to save lockdown-hit strays’
Observing that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all sections of society and animals are no exception, the vacation bench of the Madras High Court has directed the constitution of a committee to formulate a plan of action for feeding of stray animals.
A division bench comprising Justice Anita Sumanth and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy sought to constitute a committee comprising representatives from Blue Cross of India, NGOs, representatives from State Animal Husbandry Department/ Board of Animal Welfare to formulate a plan of action for feeding of stray animals during the lockdown.
Pointing out that the travails of stray animals remains somewhat understated and often lost in the legitimate attention being given to other critical issues, the bench led by Justice Anita Sumanth said, “It is, however, vital that the needs of the stray animals are addressed in an organised manner to ensure that that the least distress and dislocation is caused to them in these trying times.
“While our research tells us that there are pockets in several parts of the State where measures are being taken privately by kind and large-hearted individuals and associations to ensure that animals within their areas are cared for, we believe that a focused and concerted effort driven by the State as well as animal welfare organisations would be more impactful. This is the need of the day,” the bench held.
“There is a clarion call for people to unite in these times and such unity must extend to the care of stray animals,” the bench said, adding that a committee was being constituted for this purpose. It would deliberate, and put in place and execute all necessary measures to ensure the provision of nutrition and care to stray animals, particularly dogs.