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Monday, 19 October 2020

Additional Sessions Judge’s approach negated basic norms of fair trial: Punjab and Haryana High Court

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 18

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that the approach adopted by an Additional Sessions Judge negated the "very basic and fundamental norms of a fair trial". The disapproval came in a case where the accused were denied the right to cross-examine certain witnesses after recalling them.

Justice Sanjay Kumar was hearing a petition by Santokh Singh and another petitioner filed in connection with an FIR registered on February 13, 2009, at the Amritsar Vigilance Bureau police station under the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code.

The disapproval

  • The disapproval came in a case where the accused were denied the right to cross-examine certain witnesses after recalling them

Justice Kumar observed the state filed an application in the matter under Section 311 of the CrPC to produce certain records relevant to the case. The Tarn Taran Additional Sessions Judge on September 15, 2014, observed that prejudice would not be caused to the accused as they would be given full opportunity to cross examine the witnesses and rebut the record. But the record was apparently taken on file without recalling the relevant witnesses.

Aggrieved, the petitioners filed an application under Section 311 to recall a DSP and two other witnesses for further cross-examination. But the then Additional Sessions Judge vide order dated May 17, 2016, disallowed the plea after observing ground was not made out to allow further cross-examination. It would be open to the petitioners to lead defence evidence by examining any official.

Justice Kumar observed admittedly the state took recourse to the provision when it wanted to place on record certain documents not produced earlier. The application was allowed observing that the petitioners would be given full opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses and rebut the record.

Justice Kumar added: "Surprisingly, the Additional Sessions Judge seems to have completely overlooked the earlier order dated September 15, 2014, passed by his predecessor and dismissed the application on the ground that the petitioners could lead defence evidence and examine any official from the department concerned.

Directing the recalling of witnesses, Justice Kumar asserted cross-examination was a valuable right given to the accused and could not be diluted in this fashion. As pointed out by the court in an interim order, the approach adopted by the Additional Sessions Judge negated the very basic and fundamental norms of a fair trial.



from The Tribune https://ift.tt/31iNulR

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