According to senior counsel BV Acharya, a person who has been convicted of offences punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 has the right to appeal against the order to the high court. Under Section 389 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the appellate court is empowered to suspend the sentence given the aforementioned Act. Moreover, the court also has the power to release the appellate on bail. It is worth noting that Acharya is the special public prosecutor in the Jayalalithaa disproportionate assets case till 2012.
Earlier in a few cases, the Supreme Court has ruled that if it is not possible to dispose of the appeal in a short notice, the trail court’s sentence should be suspended and finally the appellate released on bail in the normal course. However, if the sentence concerns life imprisonment, considerations will be entirely different and such sentences are usually not suspended. It has been further ruled that if the appellate court finds such an appeal could be disposed off quickly and efficiently, it must “bestow special concern in the matter of suspending the sentence, so as to make the appeal right, meaningful and effective”.
One of the prime reasons for embarking on this approach is that the balance of convenience is in favor of suspending a sentence which is for a limited duration, say for example five years or less. On cases related to dismissal of appeals, the appellant can be compelled to undergo the remaining part of the sentence. One the other hand, if the appellant is forced to undergo the sentence for considerable length of time and is acquitted at the end, there is no means to compensate the wrongful detention.
Also, the considerations for granting bail at the stage of investigation or trail are completely different. In such a stage, the prosecution is empowered with the right to oppose the grant of bail as it might jeopardize the interest of the prosecution. Further, the accused might use the bail period to tamper with evidence and swing the case in his side.
As far as the question of staying the order of conviction is concerned, the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the relevant clauses has ruled that the appellant court has the power to stay the operation of order of conviction.