Right Of Appeal Cannot Be Postponed Subject To Convict Serving A Minimum Period Of Sentence: Apex Court
The Supreme Court recently while deprecating a High Court's order, that mandated a Criminal appeal to be scheduled only after the completion of a 10-year imprisonment period, observed that the right to appeal for a convict should not be delayed based on the condition that the convict must serve a minimum sentence duration.
The Bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Augustine George Masih was dealing with a Special Leave Petition that challenged an order passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court which dismissed the application under Section 389(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 for suspension of jail sentence and grant of bail of the convict and directed the matter to be listed for final hearing after completion of 10 years of the actual sentence.
Senior Advocate N.K. Mody along with Advocate-on-Record Praveen Swarup appeared for the appellant while Additional Advocate General D. S. Parmar appeared for the State.
Background: In March 2010, the High Court granted the appellant the benefit of suspension of sentence and released him on bail. Subsequently, while on bail, the appellant allegedly violated the terms of the Court order and committed four additional offences. As a result, in 2018, the High Court revoked the suspension of the sentence order.
The appellant contested this cancellation, but the High Court declined to consider the application and instructed the matter to be scheduled for a final hearing only after the completion of 10 years of the actual sentence. Dissatisfied with this decision, the appellant approached the Supreme Court.
"Earlier vide order dated 22.03.2010, the appellant was given the benefit of suspension of sentence but he violated the terms and condition of the order of the Court and committed four other offences, therefore, vide order dated 24.07.2018 the order granting suspension has been cancelled. Since then the appellant is in jail. The appellant has not completed ten years of the actual sentence. Looking to the conduct of the appellant, we are not inclined to entertain the present application. Accordingly, I.A. No.8865/2022 stands rejected. List the matter for final hearing after completion of 10 years of the actual sentence", ordered the High Court.
The Supreme Court did not find any error in the opinion of the High Court on the aspect of cancelling the benefit of suspension of the sentence. Still, on the aspect of listing the matter for final hearing after 10 years of actual sentence, the Court noted, "The High Court, however, has also directed for listing the matter for final hearing after completion of ten years of the actual sentence. We do not think this was a proper course as adopted by the High Court. Such an order could lead to an interpretation that right of appeal could be postponed subject to a convict serving a minimum period of sentence."
The Bench accordingly set aside that part of the order and requested the High Court to hear out the appeal as early as possible.
Cause Title: Sachin Rathore v. The State Of Madhya Pradesh [CRIMINAL APPEAL NO. 3612 OF 2023]