New Delhi: Over 1.8 lakh criminal appeals are pending adjudication in the Allahabad High Court, presently having 93 judges against the sanctioned strength of 160, which also disposed 31,044 such pleas since 2000, the Supreme Court has been told.
The information regarding the huge numbers of pendency and the steps taken to deal with them have been shared by the Uttar Pradesh government and the Allahabad High Court registry with a bench headed by Justice S K Kaul in pursuance of an earlier order asking them to help it in laying down “broad parameters” for grant of bail by the high court itself to the convicts whose appeals are pending for longer periods.
While giving a slew of suggestions, they gave year-wise details of filing and pendency of criminal appeals and said, “as of August 2021, there are approximately 1,83,000 Criminal Appeals pending both at Lucknow Bench and Allahabad High Court.
“As of August 2021, there are 7,214 convicts in various jails across the State of Uttar Pradesh who have already undergone more than 10 years of their conviction and their Criminal Appeals are pending before the Hon’ble High Court.”
Listing out measures to deal with the pendency of cases, they said 31,044 criminal appeals have been disposed of since 2000.
Circulars and guidelines have been issued and committees have been formed by the High Court from time to time for early disposal of criminal appeals, they said.
“As per the roster with effect from 14.07.2014, issued by the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court, priority is given to hearing to those criminal appeals where the accused has undergone more than half sentence in view of Section 436A Cr.P.C. and the accused is in jail; hearing to matters relating to murder, rape, dacoity and kidnapping; hearing to those cases wherein the proceedings of the trial is stayed or record has been summoned; and hearing to those cases wherein mediation is successful,” they said.
The 102-page document said that there are four Committees working at the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad.
A Disposal Review Committee has been constituted to monitor the institution and disposal of old cases on priority basis and to make suggestions for future course of action in view of the Letter dated June 11, 2018 of the CJI, they said.
“ An Arrears Committee has been constituted to make suggestions for expeditious disposal of cases pending in the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad,” they said, adding “a Monitoring Committee has been constituted to fast-track hearing and disposal of cases under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1968.”
The fourth committee has been constituted to prepare, implement and monitor an action plan for reducing the pendency of five years old cases and other priority cases, on the pattern of action plan of Punjab & Haryana High Court with such modifications, as were considered appropriate, they said.
“At present 93 Judges are working against the sanctioned strength of 160 of the Allahabad High Court, out of which 65 are working at the Principal Bench at Allahabad and 28 at Lucknow bench,” they said.
For expeditious disposal of criminal appeals, with effect from July 14, 2021, the acting chief Justice of the high court has specifically constituted one Division Bench to hear the criminal appeals upto the year 2007 and the Government appeals up to the 2005 and two Single Judge Benches to hear the criminal appeals starting from the oldest, they said.
“Three Division Benches have been constituted to hear the criminal appeals of other categories. Likewise, three Single Judge Benches have been constituted for disposal of criminal appeals starting from the oldest … of SC/ST act and four Single Judge Benches have been constituted for disposal of criminal appeals starting from the oldest u/s … of SC/ST Act,” they said.
In addition to this, four Single Judge Benches have been constituted to the criminal matters of other categories and one Division Bench and one Single Judge Bench have been constituted to hear the criminal appeals pertaining to Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative Assembly and Members of Legislative Council and one Division Bench has been constituted to hear Supreme Court expedited criminal appeals, they said.
At Lucknow Bench, one Division Bench and three Single Benches are earmarked for hearing criminal appeals from July 26, this year.
Meanwhile, they also suggested 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 Allahabad High Court.
The state government and the High Court have put caveats also and 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.”
The top court was 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.