Before granting bail in grave offences, rights of victim & family be considered, HC tells SC
New Delhi: The Allahabad High Court has told the Supreme Court that in cases of serious and grave offences, rights of the victim and his family should be considered before granting bail to an accused.
It suggested to the top court that a ‘victim impact assessment' report should be obtained after consulting the victim.
It said the report should clearly state all concerns along with vital information on physical, mental and social impact of the crime and impact the bail may have on the victim.
The high court's registry has given its suggestions to the top court in pursuance of an earlier order asking it to help in laying down “broad parameters” for regulating the matters of bail applications during the pendency of the appeals of the convicted persons.
“The rights of the victim should be considered before granting of bail,” the high court said in context of serious and grave offences.
The affidavit filed by the Allahabad High Court registry is likely to be considered by a bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on Wednesday.
The top court is hearing 18 criminal appeals of the convicts in heinous offences seeking bail on the ground that they have spent seven or more years in jail and be granted bail as their appeals against the convictions are yet to be listed for regular hearing in the high court due to the long pendency.
“That when a person is convicted, the presumption of innocence vanishes and a heavy presumption of guilt supplants it. However, a person accused of crime shall not, until he has been finally adjudged guilty in the court of last resort, be absolutely compelled to undergo imprisonment or punishment, but may be admitted to bail also after conviction and pending the appeal”, it said.
The high court further said that priority should be given to hearing those criminal appeals where the accused has undergone more than half sentence in view of provisions of CrPC.
“A different yardstick will have to be evolved for grant of bail to more serious crimes like white collar and organised crimes against the State and its citizens since the criminals involved here are habitual and hardened criminals who commit crimes in a planned and sophisticated manner,” it said.
To address the huge pendency of cases, the High Court suggested that dedicated benches should be constituted for hearing long pending criminal appeals.
“The high court is facing immense pressure on account of the huge pendency of cases. Therefore, the accused may not be given benefit thereof in a mechanical manner unless special benches dedicated for deciding appeals early are constituted,” it said.
The high court further said that as held by the top court in various cases that life sentence means ‘entire life', the same should be taken as it is.
"If a person is released after spending - years in jail, the very object of imposing a life sentence would be defeated. If an accused of heinous crimes is released on bail after spending - years in jail, he will never make any effort to decide his appeal early,” it said.
Often convicts get their appeals filed and keep the bail applications pending for a long period merely to generate the sympathy of the court, it added.
“Such conduct of the convict must be kept in mind while granting bail as such persons may have serious adverse consequences for the society at larger,” it said, adding that no order of expeditious hearing ought to be passed by any court without good and cogent grounds as the same may affect other litigants whose appeals are similarly pending.
Besides these the high court gave a slew of other suggestions for regulating bail applications of accused, whose appeals are pending for a longer period.
On August 25, the top court had said, “Suffice for us to say that cases where bail is granted, it should be with directions that for every hearing before the High Court, the convict must appear in person coupled with a condition that during the period of bail he would report to the local police station at least once a month on a designated date and time failing which bail would stand cancelled apart from any other condition which would be imposed. This would keep track of the accused, who has been enlarged on bail.”
The top court had said that before the court gives its "imprimatur" or authoritative approval to any suggestions/proposals given by Uttar Pradesh government it would be appropriate that the high court itself examines it and makes its own suggestions.
On August 23, the UP government had suggested to the top court that bail pleas of life convicts, if they have undergone 10 years of jail term, and in other cases where half of the period of the maximum sentence awarded have been spent, can be considered by the High Court.
It has said that to ensure “public peace and the well-being of the society, life convicts who are hardened criminals, repeat offenders, kidnappers, in crimes related to massacre (three or more than three murders), habitual criminals, and fall in prohibited categories as per the U.P Jail Standing Policy - no bail should be granted”.
“As of August 2021, there are approximately 1,83,000 Criminal Appeals pending both at Lucknow Bench and Allahabad High Court,” it said.
“As of August 2021, there are 7,214 convicts in various jails across Uttar Pradesh who have already undergone more than 10 years of their conviction and their Criminal appeals are pending before the High Court,” it added.