IN a significant order, the Supreme Court, on Friday, said the Allahabad High Court can consider granting bail to the convicts who are not repeat offenders and have served 14 years or more as jail terms as sentence as this would ensure massive decline in pendency.
The Supreme Court also said the convicts who have served jail terms between 10 to 14 years can be considered for bail during the pendency of their appeals against conviction in the High Court.
The Allahabad High Court and its Lucknow benches had approximately 1,83,000 Criminal Appeals pending as of August 2021, and there are 7,214 convicts in various jails across Uttar Pradesh who have already undergone more than 10 years of their conviction and their criminal appeals are pending adjudication in the High Court.
A bench comprising Justices S.K. Kaul and M.M. Sundresh was exasperated over the non-formulation of a common template by the Allahabad High Court and the Uttar Pradesh government to deal with the issue of bail to convicts who have served out a considerable period of their sentence and have no likelihood of hearing of their appeals in the near future.
The Bench then went on to grant bail in 21 such cases filed against the denial of bail to convicts by the High Court. “The fact remains. If a convict has served out 14 or more than 14 years of the sentence, then his case is likely to be considered for remission. The court should either direct (the state authorities) that his application for remission be considered within three months or enlarge him on bail,” the bench observed.
It asked the counsel for the High Court and the State government to note its directions on consideration and grant of bail to convicts.
The court said: We have put the word to the learned counsel… A list should be prepared of all cases where the persons have served out the jail sentences of 14 years and are not a repeat offender. In these cases bail can be granted in one go. Second category of persons could be one where the persons have served out more than 10 years sentence and in these cases, bail can be granted at one go unless there are any accentuated circumstances. These two parameters can be followed”.
The bench asked the counsel for the High Court to convey its views and to this, the lawyer said though he was appearing on the administrative side, he would pass on the directions of this court. “If a person has served out 14 years of imprisonment then I do not understand as to why the bail is not considered on grounds that the lawyer was present or the lawyer not present. There has to be a repeat offender or something like that for opposing or denying the bail,” Justice Kaul observed during the hearing.
The Bench said that it took 15 to 20 minutes in deciding the 20 odd bail applications and the same can be done in the High Court by preparing the list of cases where the convicts have served either 14 or more or between 10 to 14 years of jail term. We wanted the high court to find a solution… otherwise, we could have done it earlier but we did not do it because we wanted the high court to find the template. But frankly both of us were exasperated today so we decided on these. Template has to be there. The template, which was sought to be implemented earlier, was so complex, the Bench said.
Earlier, the Supreme Court had asked both the Uttar Pradesh government and officials of Allahabad High Court to sit together and jointly submit the suggestions for regulating the matters of bail applications during the pendency of the appeals of the convicted persons.
The Supreme Court had said that if the suggestions are not given, then it may formulate some guidelines on its own.