SC expresses shock over decades old pendency of appeals in HCs
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed "shock" over criminal appeals pending for over decades in high courts and convicts completing maximum sentence for the offence without getting bail during pendency of the cases.
This is a "troubling situation" and a "solution needs to be found out" for speedy disposal of appeals in various high courts, the apex court said.
A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and S Abdul Nazeer agreed to examine the matter and issued notice on a plea seeking grant of bail to those convicts whose pleas are not likely to be taken up for hearing in near future.
"This is a troubling situation for us and a solution needs to be find out for speedy disposal of pending appeals in various high courts," the bench said.
The apex court, however, did not stay an order of April 26 of Madhya Pradesh High Court holding that pendency of appeals cannot be the only ground for grant of bail.
It sought details of total number of appeals pending in high courts from Registrar General within six weeks.
The bench sought "the details of appeals, where the sentence is life imprisonment, other appeals where sentence is imprisonment category-wise and the duration of pendency of each one of these appeals so far."
Advocate Naveen Prakash appearing for the NGO said that in Madhya Pradesh High Court at present the appeals from year 1998-2000, are at present taken up for hearing and the figure is mentioned in the order.
By the time the appeals are taken up for hearing, the convicts would have served the maximum sentence and their petitions challenging conviction becomes infructous.
Justice Chelameswar said when he was posted at his parent High Court at Hyderabad, the rate of disposal of appeals was two years.
He told the counsel that this problem is not limited to Madhya Pradesh High Court but was happening in other states as well. The bench listed the matter along with other similar petition pending with it.
In another matter related to Uttar Pradesh High Court where bail was dismissed to a convict during pendency of his appeal against conviction, the apex court has also voiced its concern.
"The phenomenon of mounting pendency and discomfiting delay in disposal of cases, both before the district courts and the high courts of the country, has by this time received the concerned attention of this Court. On umpteen occasions and from time to time in several cases, exhaustive directions of general nature have been issued to ameliorate the situation in the overwhelming perspective of the right to speedy trial and disposal of criminal appeals," the bench had said in its order on March 31.
It had asked senior advocates C U Singh and Shyam Divan to assist the court to offer their responses and recommendations for outlining specific guidelines based on the recorded statistics of pending criminal appeals.
The apex court had identified Allahabad High Court as its pilot project for the implementation of guidelines.