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SC to examine whether convicts entitled to bail if HCs unable to dispose appeals speedily

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Monday decided to examine and "evolve" possible solution to a vexatious legal question as to whether convicts are entitled to bail if high courts are unable to speedily decide their appeals.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Surya Kant, asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist it "in evolving, if possible, solutions to the problem" which usually arises due to the delay in deciding appeals of convicts in serious offences by appellate courts including the high courts.

The bench was hearing the plea of one Khursheed Ahmad, represented by senior advocate Devadatt Kamat.

Ahmad, who has been convicted in a murder case by a trial court and is in jail for nearly three years, has moved the top court challenging an order of the Allahabad High Court by which he was denied bail.

The High Court said he cannot be granted bail as his appeal against the conviction was still pending before it.

The top court, in its order, said, "The appellant is in custody for over three years. The appeal before the Allahabad High Court is not likely to be heard immediately unless an order of expeditious hearing is passed either by this court or by the High Court."      

It also said that no order for "expeditious hearing ought to be passed" by any court without good and cogent grounds as it may affect other litigants whose appeals are similarly pending.

"Yet, at the same time, the inability of the High Court, for reasons beyond its control, to bring the criminal appeal or appeals to an early conclusion should not result in a situation where the accused persons are to be released on bail on the aforesaid ground," the bench said, adding that these questions require "due consideration".

It has now fixed the matter for hearing on November, 8.

Ahmad, a resident of Kaushhambi district in UP, alleged that the HC dismissed the plea for bail saying "no good ground is made out for enlarging" him on bail.

"It is submitted that the Petitioner is in jail for over 2 years 8 months there is no likelihood of this appeal being heard in near future and on this ground alone the Petitioner was entitled to be released on bail more particularly when the co-accused have been granted bail," the plea said and sought the bail for Ahmad.

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