19 May 2023 5:37 AM GMT
The Supreme Court recently disapproved of the action taken by the Allahabad High Court to list a matter for hearing before the same bench, which had failed to pronounce judgment within a period of six months after reserving it.The Supreme Court stated that if the judgment is not delivered within 6 months after reserving it, then it should be assigned to another bench for fresh hearing, and not...
The Supreme Court recently disapproved of the action taken by the Allahabad High Court to list a matter for hearing before the same bench, which had failed to pronounce judgment within a period of six months after reserving it.
The Supreme Court stated that if the judgment is not delivered within 6 months after reserving it, then it should be assigned to another bench for fresh hearing, and not to the same bench.
A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Ahsanuddin Amanullah was dealing with an appeal filed by a convict seeking bail on the ground that the High Court has not pronounced its judgment, which was reserved in August 2022. The criminal appeal was filed in the High Court in 2014.
On May 8, the Court had sought a report from the Allahabad High Court regarding the status of the judgment. Pursuant to that, the Assistant Registrar of the High Court reported to the Supreme Court that the judgment has not been reserved and the matter was listed before the same bench on May 12. On that day, the arguments were concluded and the bench directed the parties to file written submissions. The case is now posted for delivery of judgment on May 19.
Observing that the judgment has not been pronounced since August, as per the report submitted by the Assistant Registrar, the bench stated, "to say the least, this is a completely unsatisfactory state of affairs."
The Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction at the matter being listed before the same bench. Advocate-on-Record R.H.A. Sikander, for the appellant, placed reliance on Anil Rai v. State of Bihar (2001) 7 SCC 318,, in which it was held that "if a judgment is not pronounced within a period of six months, it should be placed before another Bench for fresh arguments."
"We are of the view that thereafter the matter was required to be handed over to another Bench, more so, in the manner it has proceeded even thereafter, simply being assigned to the same Bench", the Court observed.
The Court opined that, “We thus, cannot appreciate the reassigning of the matter to the same Bench and we direct that the matter be assigned by Chief Justice to another Bench keeping in mind the ratio in Anil Rai.”
In light of the above, the Court held that there is “no question of pronouncement” of judgment now by the same Bench on May 19.
Furthermore, considering that the appellant has been in custody for 16 years 9 months and 18 days (as on 09.04.2023), the Court granted interim bail to the accused subject to the final judgment.
While disposing of the petition the Court said, “reluctant as we are to observe, we would request the Bench now assigned to take up the matter as expeditiously as possible.”
The Court stated that despite the opposition by the counsel for the complainant, “we have little option but to release the appellant on interim bail”.
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Case Title: Umesh Rai@Gora Rai v. UOI
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 448
Counsel for petitioner: AOR R.H.A. Sikander,Sameer Rai
Counsel for respondent: Parth Awasthi, AOR Nirmal Kumar Ambastha
Click Here To Read/Download Order