Published on: 24 August 2023 at 11:30 IST
The Kerala High Court has brought to attention a range of issues in the management of cases, particularly criminal appeals before the court, which often results in the misapplication of interim orders issued by the Court.
A division bench consisting of Justices A Muhamed Mustaque and Sophy Thomas raised this concern while deliberating on a criminal appeal. The focus was on the misuse of interim orders or sentence suspension orders, commonly granted in criminal appeals.
Many individuals convicted by trial courts experience suspension of their sentences by the High Court shortly after they file appeals. These appeals may remain unaddressed for years, during which the convicted individuals remain free from imprisonment based on the strength of these orders.
Justice Mustaque pointed out that the challenge lies within the court itself. He highlighted a specific case wherein a man, currently 80 years old, had his sentence suspended 25 years ago and had not spent any time incarcerated during this period.
“The problem is with this court. The court grants an interim order. After 10 years. We have serious issues in managing our cases in the sense. I was discussing this with the Chief Justice. I have seen in a criminal appeal where the sentence was suspended 25 years back. Nobody wants to take up the case. Now that person is 80 years old, so they say how can we now send him to jail,” orally remarked Justice Mustaque.
The judge underscored the necessity of developing a mechanism to expedite the resolution of criminal appeals accompanied by suspension orders.
“We need to evolve a mechanism so that if there is a suspension of sentence or any interim order, we can see to it that it is somehow disposed of. Only the cases where the lawyers are eager get disposed of. The system suffers because of this,” was emphasized.
Recently, Justice A Badharudeen, a single-judge, had also highlighted the issue of individuals accused in serious cases such as rape and attempted murder evading arrest for several years by exploiting interim “not-to-arrest orders” granted by the court.