Hussainara Khatoon & Ors v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar

Hussainara Khatoon & Ors v. Home Secretary, State of Bihar


COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: Bhagwati, P.N, Desai D.A

REFERENCE: 1979 AIR 1369


Petitioner: Hussainara Khatoon & Ors

Respondent: Home Secretary, State of Bihar

SUBJECT: The judgment revolves around the question of whether speedy trial is a part of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution?

FACTS: Due to the massive number of under-trial prisoners in Bihar jails, Ms.Kapila Hingorani filed a Public Interest Litigation before the Hon’ble SC under Article 32 of the Constitution requesting for their speedy trial.


The Indian Constitution

  • Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by Part III
  • The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
  • The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III
  • Article 21: No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
  1. Whether the PIL filed by Ms. Kapila Hingorani is maintainable?
  2. Whether speedy trial forms a part of Article 21 of the Constitution?

The respondents to the present case objected the locus standi of the petitioner as she was not the aggrieved party in the present case. They further contended that a prerequisite to file a petition under Article 32 or 226 is fundamental right violation of the petitioner.

However, the petitioner contended that, though she is not the aggrieved party in the current case she has filed the petition in the interest of the under-trial prisoners who were denied speedy trial. She further pleaded that; due to the pitiable economical condition of the prisoners the petition may be permitted.

Upon hearing the parties, the Court held that, PIL’s under Articles 32 and 226 may be permitted on valid grounds in order to encourage easy access of justice to the citizens. However, the Court clarified that, PIL’s may be admitted only on valid grounds and no frivolous petitions may be entertained. The petitioner should not have any personal interest or gains from the petition.

Therefore, the Court allowed the petition and declared that, speedy trial is a part of Article 21 of the Constitution and directed the lower courts to immediately conduct the cases and dispose off the matter. Due to this landmark decision of this Hon’ble Court around 40,000 under trial prisoners were released from Bihar jails.

CONCLUSION: Being accused of an offence just because of suspicion or due to false claims and being denied access to speedy justice undermines the existence of an individual. Hence the Court considering the fact that, justice delayed is justice denied made speedy trial as a part of Article 21 of the Constitution.

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