SC continues to grant bail to convicts whose appeals have been pending for years

ON Wednesday, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Surya Kant granted bail to two convicts who have undergone incarceration for over 15 and 11 years respectively. Their appeals against their conviction before the Allahabad High Court were pending for almost 11 and eight years respectively.

In the first case, that is, Urman vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, the appellant was convicted by the Sessions Court for offences punishable under Sections 147 (punishment for rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object), 302 (punishment for murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code [IPC] on November 14, 2011, and had been sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life for the substantive offence. Urman has undergone over 15 years of actual custody without remission. His first application for grant of bail was dismissed on May 29, 2015. The High Court had dismissed a subsequent application for bail on September 8, 2021, against which he approached the Supreme Court.

Granting bail to Urman, the Supreme Court bench observed that there is no immediate possibility of the appeal being heard for final disposal by the High Court.

In the second case, that is, Sanjay Bhat vs. State of Uttar Pradesh, the bench offered the same reasoning to grant bail to Bhat. He was convicted by a Sessions Court of offences punishable under Sections 147, 148 and 302 read with Sections 149 and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender) of the IPC on August 15, 2014 and had been sentenced to suffer imprisonment for life for the substantive offence of murder. His application for suspension of sentence was dismissed on August 30, 2016 by the Allahabad High Court. The High Court had dismissed a subsequent application on October 1, 2019, which he challenged at the Supreme Court.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M.M. Sundresh has been repeatedly expressing displeasure at the inordinate delays in deciding criminal appeals by the Allahabad High Court. In dozens of cases, the bench granted bail to convicts pending consideration of their appeal due to very bleak chances of their appeals being heard in near future.

In yet another case, Kanti Lal @ Kanti Chandra & Anr. vs. State of Rajasthan, a division bench of Justices Vineet Saran and J.K. Maheshwari on Wednesday granted bail to a convict who is undergoing life imprisonment while his appeal against the affirmation of conviction by the Rajasthan High Court is pending at the Supreme Court since 2017. The bench took into consideration the age of the convict and as well as the fact that the incident happened in 1984.