CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court has constituted three special benches that will hear jail criminal appeals on Saturdays, which are holidays for the court. Jail criminal appeals are filed by defendants convicted by trial courts, exercising absolute right to appeal against their conviction from jail.A notice issued by the High Court Registry said the three special benches - one single judge bench and two division benches - will hear more than five-year-old jail criminal appeals filed up to 2015. The cases in which appellants are found unrepresented will be assigned to counsels empanelled by the High Court Legal Services Committee, Deputy Registrar (Judicial) SK Mishra said in the notice.
One of the two division benches constituted for the special hearings comprise Justice SK Sahoo and Justice BP Routray while the other will have Justice Pramath Patnaik and Justice AK Mishra. The single judge bench of Justice SK Sahoo will also hear jail criminal appeals on Saturdays.Hearing of jail criminal appeals by special benches on a holiday assumes significance in view of increasing backlog of such cases in the High Court. While around 54 appeals were filed on an average every year between 2000 and 2015, the average number from 2016 has been 83.
A total of 1,221 appeals are presently pending in the High Court of which 419 have been filed since 2016. The rest 802 are more than five-year-old.Earlier, after finding criminal appeals pending for years the court had disposed of some by granting bail in cases where the petitioners had already spent 11 to 14 years in jail. “There is no reasonable probability of the appeal being taken up for final disposal in near future. Hence, the application for bail of the petitioner is allowed,” a division bench said in identical orders while disposing of some jail criminal appeals.