Noting that as of April 22, 2022 a total of 350 bail applications (in criminal appeals) of convicts who have spent more than 10 years in jail were pending before the Allahabad High Court, the Top Court on Monday directed, "We would like a closure to all these matters of bail before the next date as the matters are directed to be taken up in one go."
Court added that if required these matters can also be dealt with by the Vacation Benches.
On March 25, Counsel for one Suleman had informed the Top Court that there was no criminal Bench available to hear matters for the last 25 days at the Lucknow Bench of the High Court. The Apex Court found it disturbing and called for a report from the Registrar of Lucknow Bench on the aspect of non-availability of the Bench.
The report filed showed that the counsel's submission was not the factual position. "One Division Bench and at least one Single Judge Bench have been sitting throughout and for the relevant 25 days there has been at least two Division Benches and three Single Benches...", noted a bench of Justices SK Kaul and MM Sundresh.
However, the data also threw light on another aspect i.e. number of convicts in jail for more than 14 years and 10 years whose appeals are pending consideration.
What is of concern to us is cases which are pending for 10 years and 14 years in appeal, where bail applications are also pending and some of them are in incarceration even without pending bail applications as they may have been disposed of, remarked the division bench.
Counsel appearing for the High Court further submitted that in single offence cases, the matters are referred for remission after 14 years of actual incarceration and 20 years with remission.
To this submission, Court replied, "We see no reason why these cases are not dealt with in one go by asking the State Government to take a stand in respect of such cases which are single offence cases and pending for 10 years or more and unless there are special circumstances, all of them can be enlarged on bail."
"As far as cases which meet the norms of remission, the State Government, irrespective of pendency of the appeal, should be forthwith asked to take a call on the plea of remission. It may also facilitate posting all of the matters at one go and asking the counsels appearing for the convicts whether they would be satisfied with cases being considered for remission or would also like to urge the matter in appeal. This may help in clearing the backlog of some appeals", further remarked the Court.
It was further noted that as on April 22, the bail applications of 159 convicts incarcerated for more than 14 years and 191 convicts incarcerated for 10- 14 years, were pending before the high court. This prompted the court to pass the aforesaid direction.
The matter will now be taken up on July 25, 2022.
It is pertinent to note that, on Friday, a Supreme Court bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice BR Gavai had expressed its anger over the delay being caused by the Allahabad High Court in pronouncing the order on the bail plea filed by Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan.
The bench, while giving 2 days' time to the High Court to pronounce its order, observed that Khan has been released on bail in 87 cases, however, this one case is still pending, which is a travesty of Justice.
A day before, the same bench had expressed shock to know that criminal appeals in Allahabad High Court were pending since 1980. Justice Rao had then remarked, “The person might have committed an offence in 1970s, considering that the trial concluded in 5 or 6 years, he might have approached the court in 1980. If he was 40 years old then, he must be over 80 years now!”
Case Title: SULEMAN vs THE STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH
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