“Accused has already undergone 21 years in jail. The criminal appeal has been pending since 2005 before this court,” the bench said, while allowing his appeal.
While acquitting a man who was in jail for 21 years for a murder crime that happened in 1996, the Allahabad High Court has observed that delay in disposal of criminal appeals pending in the high court is matter of serious concern to all those involved in the administration of criminal justice.
Allowing a criminal appeal which was been pending since 2005, the bench of Justice Narayan Shukla and Justice Chandra Dhari Singh set aside conviction and life imprisonment imposed by the trial court on Ram Lakhan. The trial court had found Ram Lakhan guilty of murdering Chhavinath by inflicting knife blow.
“Delay in the context of justice denotes the time consumed in the disposal of case, in excess of the time within which a case can be reasonably expected to be decided by the Court. No one expects a case to be decided overnight. However, difficulty arises when the actual time taken for disposal of the case for exceeds its expected life span and that is when we say there is a delay in dispensation of justice,” the bench observed referring to various apex court judgments.
The court also quoted the Law Commission report and said that the criminal appeals should be heard at earliest by the high court to avoid miscarriage of justice and to secure a uniform standard in dealing with such criminal appeals.
Setting aside the conviction and life sentence, the court said that the prosecution case, when judged on the touchstone of totality of the facts and circumstances, does not generate the unqualified and unreserved satisfaction indispensably required to enter a finding of guilt against the appellant. “We are of the unhesitant opinion that the prosecution has failed to prove the charge against the appellant to the hilt as obligated in law and thus, he is entitled to the benefit of doubt,” the bench observed.