In the instant case, applications had been preferred by the appellant to seek condonation of 314 days in filing the present appeal, and condonation of further 44 days in re-filing the appeal. The appeal has been preferred by the appellant under Section 374 and 375 Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 read with Section 21 of the National Investigation Agency Act.
The appellant has stated that he is in judicial custody and that he has no family members, and no other acquaintances in Delhi. He was represented by legal aid counsel before the Trial Court. He claims that he was not provided with the complete documentation relied upon by NIA in the instant case till the date on which charges were framed against him. He has also claimed that a part of the documents relied upon by the prosecution may have been supplied to the learned legal aid counsel, but the same have not been handed over to him despite repeated requests.
He has also claimed that looking to his past incarceration, he informed the officials of the NIA of his desire to plead guilty to the charges, and the officials promised him that they will ensure that he will be let off with the minimum sentence of 5 years. He was also promised that he would be transferred to a jail in his home state i.e. Taloja Central Jail in Mumbai, to undergo the remaining portion of his sentence. For this reason, he did not feel it necessary to collect all the relevant documents related to his case. He moved an application on 29.03.2017 to plead guilty to all the charges framed against him.
Consequently, his statement conveying his intention to plead guilty was recorded on 12.04.2017. He submits that contrary to the assurance given to him, the Special Court NIA, Patiala House Courts passed the order on sentence on 21.04.2017, sentencing him to rigorous imprisonment for up to 7 years in respect of the several offences, and to undergo the default sentence of 30 days in respect of each of the offences on non payment of fine. He claims that he was devastated with the sentence pronounced by the Special Court and he went into severe depression for about 6 months. With the help of kind hearted inmates and support of his family, he came out of his depression and started exploring the avenues available to him. He learnt that the legal aid cell within Tihar Jail, New Delhi would provide him the necessary legal assistance needed to challenge the order on sentence. He attempted to consult a lawyer, but he was informed that he would need to first collect the documents regarding the case against him. Since the appellant was confined in High Security Section of the Jail, he faced difficulty in freely speaking to fellow inmates, let alone to collect documents. Later, he could get some document with the help of his uncle and an NGO called the National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations (NCHRO). Upon perusing the details, it became evident that the appellant had a strong case and that he had been harshly sentenced. The aforesaid are stated to be the reason for the delay of 314 days in filing the appeal.
So far as the delay of 44 days in refiling is concerned, the appellant states that the appeal was initially filed on 30.05.2018 and was refiled on 30.08.2018, resulting in delay of 44 days in refiling. He states that at the time of initial filing on 30.05.2018, he did not have in his possession the complete papers in the matter. He states that the appeal was initially filed, so as to save further delay in filing. Refiling had been done with additional documents which his counsel had procured with great difficulty. Delay in refiling had occurred on account of obtaining of certified copies of the Charge and Order on charge, which were provided to the appellant only on 26.07.2018.
Upon issuance of notice in these applications, the respondent NIA has filed its replies. The respondent has opposed the applications and contended that the applications are not maintainable.