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HC rejects convict’s plea for suspension of sentence in murder case

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Srinagar: The High Court today rejected an application for suspension of a life imprisonment sentence awarded to a convict in a murder case in Pulwama in 2011.

A division bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Mohammad Akram Chowdhary while rejecting application for suspension of the sentence and bail by convict Javid Ahmad Shah said “since there is a positive finding of the trial court that the case has been proved by the prosecution based on formidable, circumstantial as well as oral evidence supported by medical and forensic evidence, therefore, appellant on his conviction cannot raise a plea of being innocent as the presumption of innocence in the appeal is not available to the appellant as is available to an accused before the trial court.”

Shah was convicted by Principal Sessions Judge Pulwama in February this year for murdering a student, Khursheed Ahmad Wani, in 2011.

The court also rejected contention of the counsel for the appellant convict that there is inordinate delay in disposal of the case and that the court was taking longer time to decide the appeal.

“We are of the opinion that the appeal which was filed on 04.02.2022 cannot be said to be pending for the last 4/5 years as required by the apex court (in reference to the case relied upon by the appellant—(Satender Kumar Antil Vs. Central Bureau of Investigation & Anr., reported as AIR 2022),” the court said.

The bench added “we are also of the opinion that the criminal appeals of under-trials (life convicts) or the persons who are in custody for longer duration, will not take much of the time to be heard finally. There is no difficulty in hearing this appeal after ministerial formalities of preparing and furnishing paper-books to the concerned parties are completed.”

The observation of the apex court, the bench said, suggests that it has only to be after 5/6 years in case the appeal is not disposed of, that suspension of sentence and grant of bail be considered, in a heinous case like murder.

The division bench said that while considering the application for suspension of sentence and grant of bail, it is not required to consider the evidence on record meticulously lest it should affect the merits of the case while considering the main appeal.

“The appellate court has to consider the case just to find out whether there is prima facie case to hold that there has been some miscarriage of justice which may be apparent on the face of the record and in such situation the suspension of sentence can be ordered and as a consequence the appellant can be released on bail.”

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