The Supreme Court: In an application vide Arvind Patel (Applicant) v Uganda (Respondent) Criminal Application No. 1 of 2003 for an order granting bail to the applicant pending the determination of his appeal to the Supreme Court in a criminal case, the court granted bail.
The applicant’s application stated that he was convicted, after a trial, of the offence of conspiracy to murder c/s 201 of the Penal Code, and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment by the Chief Magistrate’s Court of Buganda Road, Kampala, on 9th March, 1999. He subsequently appealed to the High Court against the conviction and sentence, it was dismissed in 2001. His appeal to the court of Appeal was also dismissed in 2002. He further appealed to Supreme Court and the appeal was pending determination. The applicant was 52 years old. Due to that age, he said in the affidavit that he is unable to withstand prisons condition. The offence with which he was charged did not involve personal violence. During his trial and the hearing of his appeals by the two courts, he never absconded and was released on bail.
Court while giving the ruling for this application stated that, this is a discretionary jurisdiction, which should be exercised judiciously. I have not laid my hands on any decision of this Court in which the application of this rule has been considered. However, there are a few reported decisions of the High Court of Tanzania, of Uganda and of Kenya, in which bail applications pending appeals by convicted persons have been considered. Since such cases are relevant to what conditions should apply to bail applications pending appeal, they are nevertheless, of persuasive value. In my view, principles which govern granting of bail pending the determination of an appeal by any appellate court should be the same, whether it is the High Court in its appellate jurisdiction, the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. The learned justice cited a number of cases which included; a Tanzanian case Raghbir Singh Lamba vs. R. (1958) E.A. 337, a Ugandan High Court case Girdhar Dhanji Masrani vs. R (1960) 1960 E.A. 320 and a Kenyan case Chimambhai vs. Republic (No 2) (1971) E.A. 343 and in all these cited cases the principle of bail pending appeal was discussed a depth.
The Court in the final ruled ordered and stated that, in, considerations which should generally apply to an application for bail pending appeal as indicated by the cases above referred to may be summarized as follows:
(i) the character of the applicant;
(ii) whether he/she is a first offender or not;
(iii) whether the offence of which the applicant was convicted involved personal violence;
(iv) the appeal is not frivolous and has a reasonable possibility of success;
(v) the possibility of substantial delay in the determination of the appeal.
(vi) whether the applicant has complied with bail conditions granted after the applicant’s conviction and during the pendency of the appeal (if any).
He further stated that it is contended that he applicant’s character is an important consideration in the instant application. The appellant is a first offender; he has complied with all the conditions for bails granted him by the three courts. He never absconded. Further, the offence of which he was convicted did not involve personal violence. And, in the circumstances, the Court also considered the appellants character, the factor he was a first time offender, he never jumped bail or abscond when he was released on bail by the three courts below
The Court granted the application and released the applicant on bail on the following conditions.
(a) Payments by him of cash bail of Ugshs 5,000,000.
(b) Surrender to the Registrar of this Court the applicant’s passport.
(c) The applicant should report to the Registrar of this Court every fortnight at 8.45 am, beginning on 2nd July 2003, when his appeal shall come up for hearing.
(d) Mr. Paul Patel and Mr. Henry Makmot should be the applicant’s sureties, to secure his attendance in Court whenever he is required to do so.
(e) The said sureties should each bind themself by signing a bond (not cash) of Ugshs. 10,000,000