The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea on non-pronouncement of judgement by the Allahabad High Court on a criminal appeal despite reserving the verdict in November 2021.

Referring to a 2001 judgement delivered by the Apex Court, the plea said it had laid down guidelines with regard to pronouncement of verdicts by High Courts after reserving the order.

The 2001 verdict had said if the judgement, for any reason, is not pronounced within six months, any of the parties in the matter shall be entitled to move an application before the Chief Justice of the High Court with a prayer to withdraw the case and make it over to any other bench for fresh arguments.

The matter came up for hearing before a Bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia which sought response from the Uttar Pradesh government on the plea.

"Issue notice, returnable six weeks hence," the Bench said in its order passed on December 15.

The petition has been filed in the Supreme Court by two people convicted and sentenced to life term by a trial court in a murder case.

"The instant petition not only raises substantive question of law as regards to the functioning of the high court both on administrative level as well as on the judicial side," said the plea, filed through Advocate Rishi Malhotra.

It said, as laid down in the 2001 judgement and more particularly the fact that one year has expired from the date of reserving the judgement, the High Court ought to have relisted the criminal appeal for fresh arguments before any other bench.

"Moreover, it is logically quite impossible for a high court judge to recall in such a long span of time when reserving a judgement as to what was argued on facts and what were the law points canvassed by a counsel who is appearing for the parties," it said.

The petitioners, who have undergone over 10 years of actual sentence, have urged the apex court they be directed to be released on interim bail with a further direction to the high court to relist and rehear the appeal on merits.

It said the petitioners are not even aware of the result of the statutory criminal appeal and continue to remain in incarceration for more than 10 years of actual sentence.

"The irony would further be compounded if after a year of the judgement being reserved, the high court comes to the conclusion that the petitioners deserve an acquittal in the said case then apart from the enormous judicial incarceration which the petitioners had spent, one year of further incarceration would be added because of non-pronouncement of judgement which has taken more than a year till date," the plea said.

Cause Title- Shri Pal Singh & Anr. v. The State of Uttar Pradesh

Click here to read/download Order

With PTI inputs