SC concerned with HC’s denial of bail to a convict who was behind bars for 12 years, with his appeal pending, calls for data on similar cases

THE Supreme Court has taken a dim view of the Allahabad High Court’s Lucknow bench denying bail to a convict who has already undergone 12 years of actual incarceration pending consideration of his appeal against the conviction for over nine years.

A division bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh while granting bail to appellant-Suleman observed:  “The only issue is whether in a criminal appeal of the year 2012 pending before the High Court of Allahabad where criminal appeals in the normal course are being heard of the 1980s and the appellant having undergone 12 years of actual incarceration is still to be denied bail! The High Court seems to think so and, to say the least, we completely disagree”.

The bench also called for a report from the Registrar of the Luckow bench on the position of non-availability of a Bench to hear criminal appeals, and also how many applications are pending consideration of bail where the appeal is pending consideration and the person incarcerated has spent more than 14 years in actual custody as also cases where they may have been in incarceration for more than 10 years. This came after the advocate appearing for the appellant informed the Court that similar cases of incarceration running into more than 16 years are pending consideration even for grant of bail before the Lucknow Bench and that there is no criminal Bench to hear these matters for the last 25 days.

The bench termed it a disturbing state of affairs, more so when it already passed directions in  Saudan Singh Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, to expedite such cases.

In February this year also, the Supreme Court had expressed its disappointment at the inordinate delay in deciding the criminal appeals by the Allahabad High Court. It had called for a report from the Registrar of the Allahabad High Court on the allegations by a convict that his appeal was not made ready for hearing despite the High Court order on January 9, 2019, to prepare the paper books within four weeks for hearing.

Click here to read the full order.