The SC had declared that the right to a speedy trial is a fundamental right. You can read about that here:
In this judgment from 2008, they brought lengthy police investigations under the purview of this right. This judgment assumes significance in 498A cases, including mine.
The gist of this judgment is that:
“It is, therefore, well settled that the right to speedy trial in all criminal persecutions is an inalienable right under Article 21 of the Constitution. This right is applicable not only to the actual proceedings in court but also includes within its sweep the preceding police investigations as well. The right to speedy trial extends equally to all criminal persecutions and is not confined to any particular category of cases. In every case, where the right to speedy trial is alleged to have been infringed, the court has to perform the balancing act upon taking into consideration all the attendant circumstances, enumerated above, and determine in each case whether the right to speedy trial has been denied in a given case. Where the court comes to the conclusion that the right to speedy trial of an accused has been infringed, the charges or the conviction, as the case may be, may be quashed unless the court feels that having regard to the nature of offence and other relevant circumstances, quashing of proceedings may not be in the interest of justice. In such a situation, it is open to the court to make an appropriate order as it may deem just and equitable including fixation of time for conclusion of trial.”
Here is the judgment: SC: Right To Speedy Trials Includes Lengthy Police Investigations-2008
Click the link below for a judgment in a case that dragged on for 8 years until everyone involved became exhausted, compromised and wrapped it up. Here is the link: Subu Vs Jayanthi
Here is an excerpt of the news coverage:
Dhananjay Mahapatra | TNN
New Delhi: In a significant enlargement of the scope of ‘right to speedy trial’, the Supreme Court has ruled that it applied not only to snail-paced trial court proceedings but also to lengthy police probes. This means if the police drag on an investigation without producing prima facie evidence, the accused would now have the right to move court for quashing the FIR. “It is well settled that the right to speedy trial in all criminal prosecutions is an inalienable right under Article 21 (right to life) of the Constitution. This right is applicable not only to the actual proceedings in court but also includes within its sweep the preceding police investigation as well,” a bench of Justices C K Thakker and D K Jain said in a recent judgment. This ruling would be applicable to cases pending before the police, CBI, DRI, income-tax and customs authorities as the court clarified that the right to speedy trial, now equally applicable to trial court proceedings as well as police investigations, extended to “all criminal persecutions and is not confined to any particular category of cases”. This clarification assumes significance as the higher courts have always treated lightly the complaints of harassment from those accused of petty offences while giving attention only to prominent cases or those involving heinous crimes.
Justice Jain, writing the judgment for the bench, said: “In every case, where the right to speedy trial is alleged to have been infringed, the court has to perform the balancing act upon taking into consideration all the attendant circumstances and determine in each case whether the right to speedy trial has been denied in a given case.” And if the accused is able to prove that his right to speedy trial had been a casualty in the lengthy trial or long pending investigation, the higher courts could quash the case and even the conviction recorded by the lower courts, the bench said.
But, the ruling came with a rider saying that even if there was inordinate delay in the trial or police probe, the case might not be quashed if the court came to the conclusion that doing so would not be in public interest.