NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over “long pendency”, the Supreme Court Friday granted bail to a man, serving life imprisonment after being convicted for burning his wife to death, on the ground of delay in hearing on his 2016 appeal against the conviction before the Allahabad High Court.
An irked bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana on Wednesday had directed the Home Secretary of Uttar Pradesh government to either file an affidavit giving details such as the number of adjournments taken by the convict before the high court or be ready to appear in person on Friday after the state counsel blamed the convict for the delay.
The bench, also comprising justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli, Friday perused the affidavit filed by the state government and was told by lawyer Garima Prasad that it was a convict who has taken several adjournments before the high court which is seized of his second bail application in the case.
The counsel for the convict, however, reiterated his submissions that even the appeal records have not been prepared in the high court for hearing his challenge to the conviction and the award of life imprisonment.
“We know the long pendency of criminal cases there. And because of no effective hearing, we are disposing of the appeal and granting him the bail,” the bench said.
On Wednesday, the counsel for the state government had referred to the records and had alleged that it was the counsel for the convict who has been taking adjournments and consequently delaying the trial.
“Please do not make impossible statements. I know the state (of affairs) in Uttar Pradesh,” the CJI had observed.
The bench was hearing the criminal appeal of one Pintu Saini, who was seeking bail and has been alleging that his appeal against his conviction has been pending adjudication since 2016 in the high court.
The bench, in its order, had noted that the counsel for the state government submitted that the petitioner had taken several adjournments when his criminal appeal was listed.
On the other hand, the counsel for the convict had denied such a contention claiming that even the “Criminal Appeal Paper Book” has not yet been prepared in the High Court, the order said.
“Under the circumstances, we direct Home Secretary to the State of UP to file an affidavit on or before October 1, 2021, indicating therein (i) as to how many times the Criminal Appeal filed by the petitioner is listed, (ii) as to how many times learned counsel who appeared for the petitioner before the High Court has taken adjournments, (iii) as to whether the Criminal Appeal filed by the petitioner before the High Court has reached for hearing or not and (iv) whether the Paper Books in the said matter have been prepared or not,” the order had said.
The bench had also made it clear that if the officer fails to file the affidavit on or before October 1, “he shall have to appear personally before us on October 1.”
Saini, who was convicted and sentenced in 2016 by the trial court for burning his spouse to death, had moved the top court for bail against the denial of the same by the High Court on February 27, 2018.
“Learned AGA (state counsel) has strongly opposed the prayer for bail with the contention that the applicant is the husband and he has been convicted under Section 302 IPC, cause of death of the wife of the appellant is burn injuries. In view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, we do not find it a fit case for bail. The bail application moved on behalf of appellant is hereby rejected at this stage,” the high court had ordered.