40-year-long trial becomes a ground for bail for rape and murder case accused

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A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi.

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. , Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court has said a man who faced a 40-year-long trial for the rape and murder of his niece “deserved” to be released on bail.

The “peculiar feature” of the case, that is the four-decade-long trial became a ground for an apex court Bench led by Justice AS Oka to conclude that the 75-year-old convict was worthy of bail.

“The occurrence (crime) is of the year 1983 which is 40 years old now. There are reasons why the trial was delayed,” the Supreme Court said in its order.

The trial had ended in April 2023. The man was on bail throughout the trial period. His appeal against the conviction is pending in the Calcutta High Court, which has admitted it for final hearing. The High Court had refused him bail in May, following which the septuagenarian had moved the top court.

“Considering the delay in disposal of the trial, the fact that the occurrence is of the year 1983 and the present age of the appellant, he deserves to be enlarged on bail,” the apex court observed.

Directive to HC

The Bench directed the High Court to “give out of turn priority to the disposal of the appeal in accordance with law”.

On noting that the man was a lawyer, the Bench said the conditions of bail should be scrupulously implemented by the convict.

“The appeal is to be disposed of expeditiously. The appellant shall not seek adjournments on any unreasonable grounds and shall cooperate with the High Court for early disposal of the appeal. In the event, the hearing of the appeal is delayed on account of the default on the part of the appellant, it will be open for the respondent to apply to the High Court for cancellation of the bail,” the order directed.

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