‘ Court should take liberal view on delayed appeals of convicts in custody ‘ : High Court

New Delhi : Courts should take a liberal approach when appeals against convictions are filed with some delay by those in custody, the Delhi High Court has said.

The high court said delay does not work to the advantage of an incarcerated person and people who are in custody do not have the advantage of approaching a counsel and taking legal advice at their own free will, which a free person has.

“Courts cannot adopt a hyper technical approach, while considering an application seeking condonation of delay filed against conviction by a person in custody,” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said.

The court’s order came while setting aside a sessions judge’s order, which had dismissed a man’s appeal in a robbery case solely on the ground that it was filed after a delay of 220 days.

It condoned the delay and restored the appeal to the court of an additional sessions judge and said the matter be listed before the trial court in July.

The high court noted the man had filed an appeal after he had surrendered before the court concerned to serve three-year jail term in the robbery case and said the delay in filing the appeal would not have benefitted him.

“Any delay in filing an appeal would be detrimental to a person who is in custody. Clearly the order of the appellate court in rejecting the appeal of the petitioner (man) is erroneous and the finding that sufficient cause was not shown by him in approaching the appellate court is not sustainable,” it said.

The high court held, “Courts have to take a liberal approach, when appeals against conviction are filed, with some delay, by persons who are in custody. Delay does not work to the advantage of the person incarcerated. People who are incarcerated do not have the advantage that a free person has, of approaching a counsel and taking legal advice at one own free will.”

It added that “we live in a society where families of a poor person in custody and families of those coming from remote areas of the country are not even aware of their legal rights and even if aware, may not have the capacity or resources to approach a counsel for legal advice or approach courts for legal aid”.

The man stated in his plea before the high court that he was a poor and incarcerated person and his wife was also uneducated and not in a position to arrange for funds to engage a counsel.

He said his wife was previously not aware that she could approach legal aid for filing the petition. Later, she approached the legal aid and the petition was filed before the high court through legal aid after a delay of 319 days.

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