SC slams trial courts over operational flaws

The Supreme Court has expressed displeasure over the failure of trial courts to abide by the statutory requirement to conduct examination of witnesses on a day-to-day basis.

A bench of justices Swatanter Kumar and F M I Kalifullah said the trial courts must mention special reasons if recording of statements of witnesses is adjourned, as mandated under Section 309 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

“It is unfortunate that in spite of specific directions issued by this court (Rajdeo Sharma V State of Bihar 1998) and reminded once again (State of UP V Shambhu Nath Singh 2001), such recalcitrant approach was being made by the trial court, unmindful of the adverse consequences affecting the society,” the court said.

Upholding the conviction and life term awarded to a man in a robbery-cum-murder case, the apex court said it was unhappy to note that the trial judge had adjourned cross-examination of an important witness by two months. “We issue directions in the light of the provisions contained in Section 231, read along with Section 309 of the CrPC, for the trial court to strictly adhere to the procedure prescribed to ensure speedy trial of cases and also rule out possibilities of any manoeuvring taking place by granting undue long adjournment for mere asking,” Justice Kalifullah wrote on behalf of the bench.

The apex court directed its registry to send a copy of the judgment to all high courts, which could in turn issue circulars to the trial courts. “If such circular has already been issued, as directed, ensure that such directions are scrupulously followed by the trial courts without providing scope for any deviation in following the procedure prescribed...,” the court said.

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