Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court has granted bail to a policeman arrested for allegedly killing an “innocent” man and dubbing him a “terrorist” 18 years ago.

Justice Atul Sreedharan passed the order on July 3, saying, “This is a clear cut case of violation of Article 21 on account of delayed trial.”

The case was heard through videoconferencing.

Bansi Lal (56), lodged in the central jail at Kot Bhalwal in Jammu, moved the application for bail through his counsel, who submitted that he had been in judicial custody for almost 18 years.

He had never been granted relief in the case, except for a few months when he was out on interim bail, the counsel further said.

Lal was arrested in 2006 for being a member of a police team charged with the murder of an “innocent” man and later projecting him to be a “terrorist”.

“There are a total of 72 witnesses in this case out of which only 28 have been examined in the past 17 years. This court is astounded by the facts of this case,” the judge said in his order.

“The trial is delayed at the stage of prosecution witnesses. The state is unable to show how the delay could be attributed to the applicant,” the order stated.

Under the circumstances, the court said the applicant was to be released on bail forthwith, upon furnishing a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and one surety of the like amount to the satisfaction of the registrar. –(PTI)