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The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Allahabad High Court in a batch of pleas where appellants have sought relief against prolonged incarceration. On Jul 29, Court agreed to lay down broad parameters to aid the Allahabad High Court in deciding pending criminal appeals and bail applications.
A division bench of Justice SK Kaul and Justice Hrishikesh Roy, while hearing the matter, said,
“We are in a very restricted area - It is for the High Court to take call. We can only lay some norms. People cannot be in custody for such a long period of time.”
Associate Adv. General Garima Prashad for the State of Uttar Pradesh (UP) informed the bench that about 183000 criminal appeals were pending before the Allahabad High Court and some 7200 convicts have completed 10 years of incarceration.
“Let us put it the other way - 7200 crowding your jail, who have completed 10 years.
Examine this and give them the benefit, why do you need Court orders then? We expect that before the next date, the State takes some proactive steps in this direction,” Court said.
AAG Prashad told the court that a note would be submitted with guidelines which could be adopted, so that the High Court itself could deal with these aspects.
She also informed the court that it was found that "delay in deciding of appeal is primarily attributable to the accused itself. They are not pursuing their appeal on merits and filing repetitive petitions."
It was added that the difficulty arises when bail is granted in pendency of a criminal appeal.
Earlier, A a division bench of Justice SK Kaul and Justice Hemant Gupta, had observed,
“We are of the view that some broad parameters would have to be laid down, keeping in mind the exigencies of the High Court concerned. The High Court of judicature at Allahabad and Lucknow have a long pendency of appeals. Thus, aspects such as the period undergone, the heinousness of the crime, the age of the accused, the period is taken in the trial, and whether the appellants are diligently prosecuting the appeals inter alia may be factors that may be material.”
Two broad criteria were then suggested by the state of UP for distinguishing the cases – (1) Period of imprisonment undergone (2) Period of pendency of criminal appeal
The top court suggested the following additions to the aforementioned – (1) Heinous nature of the Crime (2) Past conduct and criminal history (3) Deliberate delay in pursuing appeal (4) Appellant-convict to approach High Court at first instance
Case Title: Saudan Singh v. State of UP
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