The Supreme Court has held that an Appellate Court should not reappreciate the evidence at the stage of Section 389 of the CrPC which deals with the Suspension of sentence pending the appeal and release of appellant on bail.

The bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice JB Pardiwala observed that the Court’s endeavour should be to see as to whether the case presented by the prosecution and accepted by the Trial Court can be said to be a case in which, ultimately the convict stands for fair chances of acquittal.

The Court added that “…while undertaking the exercise to ascertain whether the convict has fair chances of acquittal, what is to be looked into is something palpable. To put it in other words, something which is very apparent or gross on the face of the record, on the basis of which, the Court can arrive at a prima facie satisfaction that the conviction may not be sustainable

The Court made this observation while dealing with a plea challenging an order passed by the High Court whereby the Court had suspended the substantive order of sentence of life imprisonment imposed by the Trial Court on 3 convicts in a murder case and ordered their release on bail pending the final disposal of criminal appeals.

Advocate R. Chandrachud appeared for the appellant whereas Senior Advocate V.K. Shukla appeared for the convicts.

The Apex Court observed that the High Court while dealing with convicts’ plea to release them on bail pending the final disposal of their appeals, had gone into the issues like political rivalry, delay in lodging the FIR, some over-writings in the First Information Report etc. The Apex Court said that all these aspects will have to be looked into at the time of the final hearing of the appeals filed by the convicts.

“…we are convinced that the High Court committed a serious error in suspending the substantive order of sentence of the convicts and their release on bail pending the final disposal of their criminal appeals.”, the Court held.

Accordingly, the Court set aside the Order passed by the High Court and directed the convicts to surrender before the Trial Court.

Cause Title- Omprakash Sahni v. Jai Shankar Chaudhary & Anr. ETC.

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