Considering that a Criminal Appeal pending adjudication before the Allahabad High Court was not likely to be taken up for final disposal soon, the Supreme Court on Friday (October 1, 2021) granted bail to an accused who was in jail for more than 9 years and 9 months.
The bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana, Justice Surya Kant and Justice Hima Kohli granted bail in a special leave petition assailing Allahabad High Court’s February 2018 order wherein the High Court denied bail to the petitioner in an appeal, instituted in 2016, against his conviction under section 302 IPC, where the cause of death of the petitioner’s wife was burn injuries.
“Taking into consideration the fact the petitioner is reported to be in jail for more than 9 years and 9 months, his Criminal Appeal, pending adjudication before the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, is not likely to be taken up for final disposal very soon, which fact could not be controverted by learned Additional Advocate General appearing for the State, we are inclined to grant bail to him,” bench in their order noted.
The Top Court on September 29, 2021, had directed the state of UP to file an affidavit before it in 2 days through a “responsible officer” in its Home department indicating how many times a 2016 criminal was listed before the Allahabad High Court, how many times an adjournment was sought by the appellant, whether the matter reached for hearing or not and whether the paper book has been prepared or not.
Chief Justice N. V. Ramana also clarified that if the affidavit was not filed by Friday (October 1, 2021), the court would require the Home Secretary of the state to appear in person.
The bench had asked the advocate for the respondent-state about the appeal being pending from 2016 and the petitioner languishing in jail.
When the state counsel responded that it was the petitioner at whose instance repeated adjournments had been sought before the High Court, the bench asked him to indicate the same from the records of the case.
CJ Ramana observed sternly, “The state’s statements must have some credibility! Irresponsible statements cannot be made! Otherwise tomorrow onwards, we will not believe your statements.”
Pursuant to Top Court’s order the Additional Chief Secretary Home Department, Government of Uttar Pradesh had submitted an affidavit stating that petitioner’s criminal appeal was listed 16 times, out of which 14 times the case was taken up wherein on the first date February 15, 2016 the appeal was admitted and thereafter appeal with first bail application was listed on three dates and on the fourth date, i.e. February 27, 2018 the first bail application was dismissed. State in its affidavit further submitted that petitioner’s second bail application after which the appeal was listed on 8 dates for disposal of the same.
“On 5 times adjournment has been sought on behalf of the petitioner, on 2 occasions passover was sought on behalf of the petitioner, once none appeared for the petitioner as well as the complainant, and once adjournment was sought on behalf of the State and once no order was passed and as to whether the Criminal Appeal filed by the petitioner before the High Court has reached for hearing or not,” State submitted in its affidavit on the aspect of number of times the counsel for petitioner before High Court took adjournments.
The affidavit on the aspect as to whether the paper book had been prepared or not stated that, “Paper books are being prepared after the orders passed by the Hon’ble Court, and since no order has been passed by the Hon’ble High Court for preparation of paperbook in the subject appeal, paper book has not been prepared, however, trial court record has been received at the Hon’ble High Court.”
The Top Court after perusing the affidavit and taking note of the fact that even the Advocate General could not controvert with the unlikelihood of the appeal being listed soon, in their order said,
“The petitioner is, therefore, directed to be released on bail, subject to such terms and conditions which the concerned Trial Court shall deem fit and appropriate to impose upon him.”
Case Title: Pintu Saini v State of UP| SLP (Crl) 5845/2021