Prolonged incarceration pending appeal with good arguable grounds to succeed would be a reason to consider suspension of sentence

Allahabad High Court: The Court recently was addressing a bail application of two convicts who had also challenged the judgment of conviction. The applicants had been convicted in Jan’17 under Ss. 302/34 and 201 IPC. The counsel for the applicants contended that there was no evidence other than last seen with the accused to connect the accused with the crime and also, there was no link evidence to connect the applicants/ appellants with the crime.

On the other hand, the counsel for the State contended that the evidence against accused persons was sufficient to convict them. Examining the facts and circumstances of the case, the Division bench comprising Ajai Lamba,J. and Dinesh Kumar Singh,J. observed that the instant case was arguable and said that keeping the accused in incarceration during the pendency of the appeals would not be justified.

The Court relied on P. Ramachandras Rao v. State of Karnataka, (2002) 4 SCC 578 wherein the Apex Court held, “…The mental agony, expense and strain which a person proceeded against in criminal law has to undergo and which, coupled with delay, may result in impairing the capability or ability of the accused to defend himself…” Relying upon this interpretation of Article 21, the Court held that right to speedy trial (which would include appeal against conviction) has been read within the ambit of Article 21 of the Constitution of India and prolonged incarceration pending an appeal which has good arguable grounds to succeed, would, therefore, be a reason to consider suspension of sentence.

Finally, considering the facts and circumstances of the case, applicants/appellants were released on bail and also, their sentence stood suspended on the condition that the counsel for the appellants shall appear to argue the appeals as and when the appeals are listed. [Jai Deo v. State Of U.P., Criminal Appeal no. 169 of 2017, decided on 3.10.2017]

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