Accused against varying periods of sentence

On April 2, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court will hear afresh appeals filed by the accused against varying periods of sentence awarded by the Kottayam Special Court in the Suryanelli rape case.

The Bench comprising Justice K.T. Sankaran and Justice M.L. Joseph Francis, while ordering the posting of the appeals on April 2, also adjourned till March 15 the hearing on the bail pleas filed by 26 accused in the case.

The court said that the Supreme Court had ordered the hearing and disposal of the appeals afresh within six months from January 31.

Court direction

It was, therefore, necessary to commence the hearing on the criminal appeals before the summer vacation in order to comply with the direction of the Supreme Court.

As for the bail pleas of the accused, the court said that since the record from the Supreme Court had not been received at the High Court, it would not be proper to hear the bail applications now.

When the petition came up for hearing, the Director General of Prosecution T.Asaf Ali opposed the bail pleas of the accused.

Heinous offence

In a statement, the State government said that the accused did not deserve bail as they had been sentenced for a heinous offence.

As there was a finding by a competent court on the guilt of the accused, the petitioners could not “claim the benefits of presumption of innocence for getting their sentences suspended”.

Grave nature

The court had to consider the grave nature of the crime perpetrated on the victim before granting them bail, the government pleaded in the statement.

Suspension

In reply to the statement, the accused contended that they sought only suspension of the execution of the sentence and not the suspension of the sentence.

It meant keeping the execution of the sentence in abeyance.

They also pointed out that the Supreme Court had not stipulated in its order that they should surrender in a court before moving bail petitions.

The petitioners had been on bail all these years including the trial and appeal stages.

The petitioners had not abused the conditions under which bail was granted to them.

Besides, the likelihood of the High Court remanding the case to trial court for appreciation of evidence could not be ruled out. If such a situation arose, there would be further delay in the disposal of the cases.

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