J&K HC | Bail cannot be granted on the ground of delay unless the matter was pending for 5 years or more

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: The Division Bench of Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Puneet Gupta, JJ., dismissed the application seeking suspension of sentence and for grant of bail to the applicant/appellant on the ground of delay.

The applicant had submitted that he had been put in jail for more than thirteen years. Noticing that the appeal against the order of conviction and sentence dated 23-07-2020 was filed on 06-08-2020. The issue with regard to suspension of sentence and grant of bail on account of delay in disposal of the criminal appeal had been considered by a coordinate bench of this court in Rakesh Kumar v. State of J&K, CRA No. 12 of 2018, wherein the Bench had relied on   Akhtari Bi v. State of M.P., (2001) 4 SCC 355, where the Supreme Court had held that speedy justice was a fundamental right flowing from Article 21 of the Constitution. It was held that a right accrued in favour of the accused to apply for bail in a case where there was delay in the disposal of the trial and appeals in criminal cases. It was further held that if an appeal was not disposed of within a period of 5 years for no fault of the appellant, such convicts may be released on bail on conditions as may be deemed fit and proper by the Court. In computing the period of 5 years the delay for any period, which is requisite in preparation of the record and the delay attributable to the convict or his counsel can be deducted. It was, further clarified that there may be cases where even after the lapse of 5 years the convicts may, under the special circumstances of the case, be held not entitled to bail pending the appeals filed by them.

Noticing that the appeal was preferred in the year 2018 and therefore, 5 years period had not been completed and even otherwise assuming the said period was over, the Bench said that even then it could not have mechanically granted bail without considering whether the delay in the disposal of the appeal was attributable to the appellant. Considerations as mentioned in the case of Akhtari Bi, for refusal of bail beyond 5 years also indicate that grant of bail at the expiry of five years pendency did not follow as a matter of routine. The nature, gravity and seriousness of the offence would also have to be seen. Hence, the Bench held that since five years had not elapsed from the date of the filing of the present appeal and the matter was already listed in the final hearing column, no ground was made out for suspending the sentence and granting bail in the present case.

[Raghubir Singh v. UT of J&K, 2021 SCC OnLine J&K 375, decided on 28-04-2021]


Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together 

Appearance before the Court:

Counsel for the Applicant: Adv. Anil Gupta

Counsel for UT of J&K: AAG Aseem Sawhney

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