Mumbai: The Bombay High Court recently directed its Legal Services Authority (HCLSA) to review pending cases in which lawyers have not been appointed for several years, despite prisoners requesting for the same.
Justice Sarang V Kotwal said: “It was unnecessarily kept pending for about more than two and a half years. This definitely causes prejudice to such prisoners. Therefore, the Legal Services Authority of this court is requested to look into this aspect and to review all applications that are pending with it… so that appeals are preferred expeditiously,” the HC said.
The HC passed the order while hearing an application filed by a man who was convicted for raping a minor in August 2019. He had filed the application in connection with an appeal challenging his conviction by the trial court.
He had filed the plea in 2019 stating that his financial condition was poor and he was unable to engage a private advocate. Hence, he said, he was unable to file an appeal against the trial court order.
In July this year, the HCLSA appointed advocate Mohansinh Rajput to represent the man. After that he filed an appeal against his conviction.
Rajput argued that his client has been in custody since May 28, 2015, and could not take effective steps to file an appeal. He also sought condonation of delay of two years and 316 days since August 2019 in filing the appeal. Normally, an appeal has to be filed within 90 days of the order passed by the trial court.
While condoning the delay, justice Kotwal directed the HCLSA to review pending cases in which lawyers are not appointed for years. The court said that the man “made out a case for condonation of delay” in filing the appeal. The court also referred to records which showed that he had requested for appointment of an advocate in 2019.