The Supreme Court of India has asked the Allahabad High Court to dispose within four months the appeals filed by two life convicts, including one from Bangladesh.
The convicts have been in custody for over 30 and 15 years, which the Supreme Court has termed as "hard case of unduly long incarceration", reports Outlook.
The apex court directed the state to file paper book in the pending separate appeals within two weeks as per the high court rules, if the convicts have not done so, so that these matters may proceed for hearing.
"We request the high court to make an endeavour to dispose of the criminal appeals within four months from the date of filing of additional paper book by the state," a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna said.
The apex court passed the order on a plea filed by two convicts, serving life terms in separate murder cases, seeking bail on the ground that they have already undergone custody of over 30 and 15 years respectively and their appeals against conviction are pending before the high court.
The two convicts, in their plea filed through advocate Rishi Malhotra, have said that deprivation of personal liberty without ensuring speedy trial in not consistent with Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.
During the arguments, the counsel appearing for the state, said that one of the petitioners is a foreign national and as per the state policy, he cannot be released prematurely.
The counsel said trial in a separate case for alleged offence of attempt to murder is pending against the second petitioner.
He argued that both the petitioners can move the high court for relief and the apex court can ask the high court to decide these matters within a time frame.
When Malhotra told the top court that bail be granted to the petitioners who are presently lodged in Agra central jail, the bench said they should cooperate with the high court so that matter can proceed further.
"From the bare facts, it may appear that it is a hard case of unduly long incarceration of the petitioners," the bench said in its order.
The bench observed that after considering the submissions of the state''s counsel, it find no reason to entertain the relief as claimed in the fact and situation of the case.
It noted that order sheet produced by the petitioner along with the petition itself makes it amply clear that the high court was inclined to hear the criminal appeals filed by them expeditiously.
"However, for reasons best known to the petitioners, the conditional order lastly passed on October 23, 2019 by the high court, had not been complied with," it said, adding, "Our attention is also invited to the fact that petitioner number one is a foreign national and as per the policy of the state government, premature release of such convict is not permissible."
The apex court, while disposing of the petition, asked the state to take necessary steps to ensure that pending trial against the second petitioner is taken to its logical end expeditiously.
The petitioner from Bangladesh was arrested in January 1991 in connection with a case lodged in Ghaziabad district and was sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court in June 1996.
The plea said he had filed an appeal in the high court against the trial court verdict but he has no one to pursue his case and he has undergone over 38 years in custody, including the period of remission.
It said the second petitioner was convicted in a separate case lodged in Agra district and was sentenced to life in February 2007.
The plea said his appeal against the trial court verdict is also pending before the high court and he has undergone over 19 years, including remission, in custody.