A division bench of Apex Court held that, Sentence can be suspended in appeal only if convict has fair chances of acquittal.
From Paras 33 to 36,
Omprakash Sahni Vs Jai Shankar Chaudhary and Anr on 02 May 2023
33. Bearing in mind the aforesaid principles of law, the endeavour on the part of the Court, therefore, should be to see as to whether the case presented by the prosecution and accepted by the Trial Court can be said to be a case in which, ultimately the convict stands for fair chances of acquittal. If the answer to the above said question is to be in the affirmative, as a necessary corollary, we shall have to say that, if ultimately the convict appears to be entitled to have an acquittal at the hands of this Court, he should not be kept behind the bars for a pretty long time till the conclusion of the appeal, which usually take very long for decision and disposal. However, while undertaking the exercise to ascertain whether the convict has fair chances of acquittal, what is to be looked into is something palpable. To put it in other words, something which is very apparent or gross on the face of the record, on the basis of which, the Court can arrive at a prima facie satisfaction that the conviction may not be sustainable. The Appellate Court should not reappreciate the evidence at the stage of Section 389 of the CrPC and try to pick up few lacunas or loopholes here or there in the case of the prosecution. Such would not be a correct approach.
34. In the case on hand, what the High Court has done is something impermissible. High Court has gone into the issues like political rivalry, delay in lodging the FIR, some over-writings in the First Information Report etc. All these aspects, will have to be looked into at the time of the final hearing of the appeals filed by the convicts. Upon cursory scanning of the evidence on record, we are unable to agree with the contentions coming from the learned Senior Counsel for the convicts that, either there is absolutely no case against the convicts or that the evidence against them is so weak and feeble in nature, that, ultimately in all probabilities the proceedings would terminate in their favour. For the very same reason we are unable to accept the contention coming from the convicts through their learned Senior Counsel that, it would be meaningless, improper and unjust to keep them behind the bars for a pretty long time till they are found not to be guilty of the charges.
35. In the overall view of the matter, we are convinced that the High Court committed a serious error in suspending the substantive order of sentence of the convicts and their release on bail pending the final disposal of their criminal appeals.
36. In fact, it was expected of the State as the prosecuting agency to challenge the order passed by the High Court, but for some reason or the other, the State thought fit not to do anything further. Ultimately, it is the original first informant (brother of the deceased) who had to come before this Court.