-Report by Gourav Jain
The Supreme Court, in the case of Menon Ekka @ Smt. Menon Ujjana Ekka vs. Union of India laid down that it can provide a criminal bail where an appeal is pending before the High Court even when the person has already gone through a part of his sentence, given the conditions are right.
The appellant was sentenced to 7 years of Rigorous Imprisonment by the Ranchi High Court. The appellant is a lady who had been convicted with her husband for an offence of the Prevention of Corruption Act, keeping in possession of inappropriate assets. Feeling aggrieved by the decision of the High Court, the lady has decided to appeal in the high court and as she had already undergone almost 3 years of her sentence, she asks for criminal bail from the Supreme Court.
Shri Gaurav Agrawal, learned counsel appearing for the appellant has submitted that the lady has been sentenced to 7 years of rigorous imprisonment, for which the appellant has already undergone 2 years and 9 months sentence. It was further contended that the appeals filed by the appellant and the others are not likely to be heard in near future and thus, it is asked for the court to release the appellant on bail during the time pending disposal of the appeal before the High Court.
Opposing the appeal, Ms. Swati Ghildiyal, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent has actively submitted that as such the High Court was ready to take up the appeals for the last disposal, however, the appellant and others were not ready for the hearing of the appeals. It is submitted that the appellant shall not make an unjustified unfairness that the appeal is not likely to be heard. It is said that looking at the charges against the appellant and the nature of the evidence, the High Court has refused correctly to suspend the sentence and release the lady on bail during the settlement of the appeal.
Taking into consideration that the appellant is a lady and has already undergone 2 years and 9 months sentence, the appeal is allowed. She is ordered to be released on bail during the pendency of the Criminal Appeal pending before the High Court on the condition that it may be given by the learned Trial court. It is observed and made clear that the benefit of the order may not be available to the other accused persons and the present order may not be written as a precedent so far as the others are concerned. The court directed the Registry of the High Court to notify the Criminal Appeals of all the accused before the Bench taking up these appeals and the court requested the High Court to finally decide the said appeals as fast as possible but not after six months from the first listing.
All concerned appellants are ordered to cooperate in the disposal of the appeals by the High Court and within the time stated. Any attempt on the part of the appellant and/or the other accused to delay the hearing of the appeals shall be seen seriously.