THE Supreme Court on Monday observed that it is a failure of the system that the accused have to wait for 20 years before their appeals against the conviction are finally decided.
“These are the real issues. These are the issues that should bother the Supreme Court. Instead, what are we doing? Just fire fighting… Fire-fighting on a daily basis” remarked a bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Surya Kant.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who was present in the court agreed with the concerns raised by CJI Gogoi.
These observations came on an appeal filed by one Khursheed Ahmad who is undergoing imprisonment for conviction under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The High Court refused to grant him bail pending an appeal against his conviction by the sessions court. The convict has been in custody for over three years.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Devadatt Kamat told the court that there is no possibility of the appeal being finally decided anytime in the near future and hence it would be unjust if the accused remains incarcerated for a long period in these circumstances.
The CJI acknowledged the concerns, and said that the Allahabad High Court has been hearing appeals that are 25 years old. Kamat urged the court to evolve a mechanism by way of some guidelines in matters like this so that valuable rights of the people could be protected.
The Court noted, “the appeal before the Allahabad High Court is not likely to be heard immediately unless an order of the expeditious hearing is passed either by this Court or by the High Court. No order of expeditious hearing ought to be passed by any court without good and cogent grounds as the same may affect other litigants whose appeals are similarly pending”.
“Yet, at the same time, the inability of the High Court, for reasons beyond its control, to bring the criminal appeal(s) to an early conclusion should not result in a situation where the accused persons are to be released on bail on the aforesaid ground. All these questions would require due consideration”, the Supreme Court noted in the order.
The Court after taking note of the problem as noted above requested the SG Tushar Mehta, to assist the Court in evolving, if possible, solutions for the present problem that confronts the Court.