The Allahabad High Court recently granted bail to a Murder accused who has been in jail for over 15 years and despite the fact that his second bail plea was filed in the year 2014, the same could not be heard by the HC due to the non-cooperation/non-appearance of his counsels.
The Bench of Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Sadhna Rani (Thakur) granted bail to appellant-accused Sandeep in view of the Apex Court's ruling in the case of Saudan Singh Vs. State of Uttar Pradesh (Crl.Appeal No.308/ 2022) and Suleman v State of Uttar Pradesh| Criminal Appeal No.491/2022.
It may be noted that while in Saudan Singh Case (supra), expressing concern about the long pendency of criminal appeals before the Allahabad High Court, the Supreme Court, on Feb 25, laid down some broad parameters that can be adopted by the High Court while granting bail.
The Apex Court had ordered thus:
"A list should be prepared for the ones who have served more than 14 years and is not a repeat offender. In all these cases there is a high possibility that if they are released they may not be interested to also pursue their appeals. The second category can be one where people have served more than 10 years and in one go bail can be granted."
In the instant case, the Allahabad High Court noted that Advocate Mahtab Alam, counsel for the appellant had filed the second bail application on April 30, 2014. The matter was listed on different dates in the year 2015 when it was adjourned at the request of the Advocate Alam.
The Court further noted that another second bail application was filed by Advocate Mohit Kumar on Feb 2, 2018, without taking 'no objection' of the previous counsel (Alam), during the pendency of the second bail application filed in the year 2014.
However, after filing the second bail application in the year 2018, though listing applications were filed by Advocate Kumar, he did not appear in the matter and took adjournment on various dates.
Even Advocate Alam, one of the several Advocates kept on sending illness slips and as a result of it, the Court noted, the matter could not be heard on the second bail application pending since the year 2014 or subsequent second bail application filed in the year 2018.
Against this backdrop, the Court took strong exception to the attitude of the counsels, that despite filing the second bail plea in the year 2014, still, they kept on getting the matter adjourned on one or other ground, or by sending illness slip-on repeated dates despite engagement of subsequent counsel.
"Noticing the above, we may record that the second bail application of the appellant pending since the year 2014 could not be decided on account of non-cooperation/non-appearance of the counsel appearing for the appellant and both the counsels have remained absent from the scene till the year 2019. Though another second bail application and the listing applications have been filed by the counsels praying for urgent listing for consideration of the bail application. The pendency of the bail application, thus, can be attributed to the fault of the two counsels appearing for the appellant," the Court lamented.
However, to honor the decisions of the Apex Court in Suleman (Supra) and Saudan Singh (Supra) and noticing that the appellant who has suffered for about 15 years of incarceration, cannot be made to further suffer on account of fault of his counsels, the Court decided to grant him bail, subject to the condition that, in case, his two counsels who have put in an appearance do not appear on the next date fixed, adverse order be passed against him.
Case title - Sandeep v. State of U.P. [CRIMINAL APPEAL No. - 4140 of 2007]