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SC grants interim bail to man observing he was in jail for 16 years

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has granted interim bail to a man who has been in jail for 16 years observing that there was a delay in deciding his criminal appeal by Allahabad High Court.
A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Ahsanuddin Amanullah granted interim bail to Umesh Rai and Gora Rai after observing that he has been in custody for 16 years 9 months and 18 days. The petitioner Umesh Rai was represented by advocates Raies Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander and Sameer Rai.
"We may notice that the appellant (Umesh Rai) has been in custody for 16 years 9 months and 18 days (as on April 9, 2023). Despite the opposition by the learned counsel for the complainant, we have little option but to release the appellant on interim bail in the present case in view of what we had recorded aforesaid subject to the final judgment," the top court said.
The court also directed the Chief Justice of Allahabad HC to reassign the matter to another bench.
"We thus, cannot appreciate the reassigning of the matter to the same Bench and we direct that the matter be assigned by Hon'ble Chief Justice to another Bench keeping in mind the ratio in Anil Rai (supra). Thus, there is no question of pronouncement of judgment now by the same Bench on May 19, 2023," the top court said.
"Reluctant as we are to observe, we would request the Bench now assigned to take up the matter as expeditiously as possible," the top court added.
On May 8, the Supreme Court directed the Registrar of the Allahabad High Court to send a report to this Court about the proceedings of August 4, 2022 and whether any judgment in appeal has since been pronounced or not.
"The petitioner has claimed that hearing in his appeal was concluded on August 4, 2022, and in view, there of the prayer of the petitioner for bail was not attended to and the judgment was reserved on the said date but the order of August 4, 2022 has neither been uploaded online nor has been made available to the petitioner," apex court mentioned.
A report has now been received from the Registrar General of the High Court whereby it also appears that the proceedings of August 4 2022 have been belatedly put on the website showing that the judgment is reserved. No judgment was pronounced or released on May 11 2023 as per the report of the Assistant Registrar.
"To say the least, this is a completely unsatisfactory state of affairs," the top court observed.
"We are of the view that thereafter the matter was required to be handed over to another Bench, more so, in the manner it has proceeded even thereafter, simply being assigned to the same Bench and thereafter being concluded on that date by the same Bench," the top noted. (ANI)

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