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Speedy Disposal: Right To Be Released On Bail

To have speedy justice is a fundamental right which flows from Article 21 of the Constitution. An appeal, bearing a statutory right, does not attain finality during the pendency of the appeal, and for this purpose, the trial is deemed to be continuing. It is, therefore, incumbent upon the High Courts to find ways and means by taking steps to ensure the disposal of criminal appeals, particularly those where the accused are in jails, so that matters are disposed of within a specified period not exceeding five years in any case. If any appeal is not disposed of within such a period for no fault of the convicts, they may be released on bail under conditions deemed fit and proper by the court.

In a specific case, an SLP (Special Leave Petition) filed by one of the convicts was dismissed by the Supreme Court due to his failure to produce proof of surrender. However, some other convicts preferred an appeal and obtained relief. The other accused who filed an SLP and these convicts were in a similar situation. The court held that, under the facts and circumstances, the convict who could not prefer an appeal is entitled to the benefit of an altered conviction. This ruling was made in the case of Anil Rai v. State, reported in 2001 Cr LJ 3969 (SC).

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