The Supreme Court has said it "cannot appreciate" the approach of the Allahabad High Court in dismissing a convict's bail application on the ground that the appeal itself should be heard, as a large number of appeals are pending.
The order of the Supreme Court starts by stating, "It has happened in Allahabad High Court once again!"
The Apex Court, which set aside the order of the High Court order and granted bail to the appellant, observed that as on date the man has undergone over 14 years of actual sentence while the appeal is pending for seven years before the High Court.
The man had filed the application before the High Court seeking bail during the pendency of appeal filed against a trial court judgement of October 2013 which had convicted and sentenced him in a criminal case.
"We require the order to be placed before the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court and also to be circulated to the judges of the Allahabad High Court so that we can see some change in the approach which, apart from providing succor to the people in long detention, would prevent unnecessary load coming on to this court," a Bench of Justice S K Kaul and Justice M M Sundresh said in its April 1 order.
The Court noted that the bail application of the appellant was rejected by the high court in December 2019 stating that the paper books should be prepared within two weeks and case be listed immediately thereafter for hearing.
The Bench was informed that thereafter three times, the appellant had moved application for listing and it was listed in October last year but was not taken up.
"Thus, orders which instead of examining bail merely rejected on the ground that the appeal itself should be heard appears to serve no purpose because of the large number of appeals pending in the Allahabad High Court," the Bench said.
"The approach to bail matters is causing a further strain on the court. This is not the only case of this kind which we have seen," it said.
The Bench said that even if the date of the High Court's order is taken into account, the appellant would have spent about 12 years in custody by then and if the appeal is pending, it see no reason why bail should not be granted in this kind of a single incident case.
"We really cannot appreciate the approach of the High Court in rejecting the bail application with a simple sentence that the appeal should be heard while hearing of the appeal looks almost an impossibility," it said.
The Bench noted that it has been informed that 16 years actual sentence and 20 years with remission is the period before which the case of remission of the sentence is taken up.
It said in some other proceedings, an Additional Solicitor General had assured that due to the election process it was not possible to take up the revisiting of the policy but post-election, the needful would be done.
"We expect the state to examine this issue more so in the context of policies as prevalent in other states and the huge backlog of the criminal cases in the state of Uttar Pradesh both at the trial and high court stage as also the fact that the appeals are not taken up for hearing for years together," the Apex Court said.
It said if a "practical approach" is adopted by the state to see at least the remission is examined after 14 years of the actual sentence, some of these appellants may be satisfied with that instead of prosecuting the appeal.
"We have thus no hesitation in setting aside the impugned order and opining that this is a incorrect approach being adopted and we grant bail to the appellant on terms and conditions to the satisfaction of the trial court," the Bench said.
With PTI inputs