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Supreme Court: Right to Appeal Not Dependent on Minimum Sentence Serving

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Published on: December 03, 2023 at 16:06 IST

The Supreme Court recently rebuked a decision by the High Court, which stipulated that a criminal appeal could only proceed after a convict had completed a ten-year imprisonment term. 

The apex court underscored that a convict’s right to appeal should not be contingent on serving a specific duration of the sentence.

A Bench comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Augustine George Masih addressed a Special Leave Petition contesting a Madhya Pradesh High Court order. 

The High Court dismissed an application under Section 389(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure seeking suspension of jail sentence and bail for the convict. Instead, it directed the appeal to be heard after the completion of ten years of the actual sentence.

The Background: 

Initially, in March 2010, the High Court granted the appellant the benefit of suspension of sentence and released them on bail. 

However, the appellant allegedly violated the terms of the court order and committed additional offenses while on bail. Consequently, in 2018, the High Court revoked the suspension order.

The appellant contested this decision, but the High Court refused to consider the application and scheduled the matter for a final hearing only after the completion of ten years of the actual sentence. Unhappy with this, the appellant moved the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court acknowledged the High Court’s decision to cancel the suspension of the sentence due to the appellant’s conduct. However, it disapproved of the directive to postpone the appeal hearing until the completion of ten years of the actual sentence. 

The Court opined that such an order could be interpreted as delaying the right of appeal based on a convict serving a minimum sentence duration.

Consequently, the Bench set aside that aspect of the order and urged the High Court to expedite the appeal hearing.Case Title: Sachin Rathore v. The State Of Madhya Pradesh