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Supreme Court issued guidelines to bring uniformity in criminal trial - (30 Mar 2017)


Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance regarding inadequacies in holding of criminal trial. Supreme Court passed the order in wake of drawbacks highlighted by Senior Advocate R. Basant, in trial procedure followed in lower Court. It was pointed out that, though there are beneficial provisions in Rules of some of High Courts, which ensure that certain documents such as list of witnesses and list of exhibits/material objects referred to, are annexed to judgment and order itself of trial court, these features do not exist in Rules of some other High Courts. In order to bring uniformity across all Courts, Apex Court issued guidelines to be followed in criminal trial proceedings.

Significant issues highlighted in guidelines is regarding practice of trial Judge leaving the recording of deposition to clerk concerned and recording of evidence going on in more than one case in same Court room, at same time, under presence and general supervision of presiding officer has to be discontinued forthwith. Apex Court directed that, depositions of witnesses must be recorded, in typed format, using computers, in Court, to the dictation of presiding officers (in English wherever possible) so that, readable true copies will be available straightaway and can be issued to both sides on date of examination itself. Further, Deposition of each witness must be recorded dividing it into separate paragraphs assigning para numbers to facilitate easy reference to specific portions later in course of arguments and in Judgments.

Every judgment must mandatorily have a preface showing name of parties and an appendix showing the list of Prosecutions Witnesses, Prosecution Exhibits, Defence Witnesses, Defence Exhibits, Court witnesses, Court Exhibits and Material Objects. Repetition of pleadings, evidence, and arguments in judgments and orders of trial Court, Appellate and Revisional Courts be avoided, as it creates confusion. Practice in some states of Investigating Officer obtaining and producing (or wound certificate/ post mortem certificate showing) front and rear sketch of human torso showing the injuries listed in medical documents specifically, may be uniformly insisted. This would help judges to have a clearer understanding of situs of injuries.

Practice of whole sale marking of confession statement of accused persons for introduction of relevant statement admissible under Section 27 of Evidence Act, 1872, deserves to be deprecated. Ideally, admissible portion and that portion alone, must be extracted in recovery memos. Trial Courts must be mandatorily obliged to specify in Judgment set off period under Section 428 of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (Cr.P.C) specifying date and not leave it to be resolved later by jail authorities or successor presiding officers.

Supreme Court issued notice to Registrar General of all High Courts and Chief Secretaries of states seeking their response so that general consensus could be arrived at on need to amend relevant rules and criminal manuals. A uniform trial proceeding is essential for better administration of criminal justice and to curtail deficiencies in trial proceedings.


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