Our jails are overcrowded in pitiable conditions. Coupled with it is the long wait for justice faced by the prisoners languishing in jails which is a traumatic experience, remarked the Supreme Court.

Prolonged incarceration and denial of bail during pendency of appeals and trials are the bane of the Indian criminal system, the court said.

A person named Ramu approached the Apex Court for bail. He was convicted by a trial court for murder and while his appeal was pending in the Allahabad HC, he prayed for bail. The High court rejected it. He then approached the apex court and said the case may take 10 or 15 years by the HC and that long delays are so traumatic and cause for mental agony. Unless steps are taken for speedy disposal, the whole judicial system may turn to be a mockery. The apex court too rejected bail but decided to look into the serious issues he had raised.

He emphasised that if the High Court acquits him of the charge for murder after 10 years, it means in spite of the innocence he had he\was unjustifiably subjected to\such treatment at the hands of law and who will compensate for the mental agony he had suffered. He was of the view that disposal of the appeals must be speedy to make the system of administration of justice meaningful.

The Supreme Court took serious note of that and directed the registrar of the high court to furnish details regarding the pendency of various appeals in the High Court in such cases. The Court directed the high Court to dispose Ramu's appeal in four months. That was a great relief for him.

The phenomenon of long pendency of appeals had been commented by the apex court a number of times, yet the situation has not improved, the apex court said.

The prisoners have a right to speedy trial. If unjustified delays occur, it violates the constitutional rights of the prisoners. So the apex court decided to intervene. That was why specific directions were given to the Allahabad HC. The Court said that there were instances when the convicts had already undergone many years of sentence though ultimately they were acquitted by the higher court. Such situations have to be decried.

The apex court wanted from the Allahabad HC statistics of the past 10 years regarding disposal of appeals against life imprisonment or death by the trial courts. If delays have taken place, the SC asked for the reasons. The average disposal time also has to be informed to the Apex Court.