Judges May Often Stay Aloof From Public, But Don't Remain Aloof From Societal Expectations: Delhi High Court
The Delhi High Court has observed that the judges may often stay aloof from the public, but they do not remain aloof from the societal expectations that offenders of criminal offences should be punished for their wrong doings.“By maintaining a vigilant approach, the Courts ensure that the pursuit of truth remains paramount, undeterred by outside influences or attempts to compromise...
The Delhi High Court has observed that the judges may often stay aloof from the public, but they do not remain aloof from the societal expectations that offenders of criminal offences should be punished for their wrong doings.
“By maintaining a vigilant approach, the Courts ensure that the pursuit of truth remains paramount, undeterred by outside influences or attempts to compromise the integrity of the legal process,” Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma observed.
The judge said that the responsibilities of the Courts extend beyond the mere determination of guilt or innocence and that courts play a vital role in safeguarding justice, preserving societal order, and addressing the wider repercussions of criminal acts on the community.
“Courts are seen as guardians of public trust and confidence, and their decisions, especially in serious criminal cases, send signals to society about the consequences of unlawful actions. Thus, it is the duty of the Courts to decide cases in a manner that resonate beyond the confines of a courtroom,” the court observed.
It added: “The judges may often stay aloof from the public, but they do not remain aloof from the societal expectations that offenders of criminal offences should be punished for their wrong doings.”
Justice Sharma said that the Courts have to remain alert at all times that their decision, based on hyper-technicality or non-appreciation of evidence, will often lead to miscarriage of justice.
The court made the observations while dismissing a plea moved by a man convicted in a POCSO case for sexually abusing a 14 year old boy by committing carnal intercourse with him.
The man was convicted for the offences punishable under Section 323, 342 and 377 of IPC and Section 4 of POCSO Act. He was sentenced to ten years of rigorous imprisonment.
Upholding the conviction and sentence, Justice Sharma noted that the minor victim had consistently stated that the convict committed carnal intercourse with him, which I'das reflected from his statement given to the police and the statement recorded before the Magistrate as well as his examination-in-chief and in part cross-examination.
“….and it was only when the cross- examination had remained deferred for a period of about 8 months that the victim had resiled from his earlier statements, and his mother had later in her testimony, stated that she had compromised the matter with the accused,” the court said.
It added: “Trial Courts have to remain mindful of the victim's state of mind when they appear before them and to pay attention that while at times, they adjourn a case to a longer date for cross-examination of a witness who has been sexually assaulted and is a minor, the complexion of the case may change due to many factors which operate outside the four walls of the Courts.”
Furthermore, Justice Sharma noted a “discerning aspect” of the case that the mother of the minor victim had testified before the Trial Court that she had settled the matter with the accused, thereby indicating her reluctance to proceed with the case any further.
“This Court believes that Judges while adjudicating a matter have to go beyond 'why' of 'how' a thing has happened. The Courts must remain alert towards the unwritten hindrances, which speak of its commitment to uncovering the actual facts and developments of a case. In doing so, it ensures that justice is not compromised by hidden influences or external pressures,” the court said.
It added that the lapse on part of Trial Court to expeditiously conclude the evidence of the minor cannot come in way of ensuring justice to him.
“In this Court‟s opinion, it is essential to deal with such cases with a heavy hand. Law has to stand firm with the victim who cannot stand for himself being minor, even if his own parents are not standing with him,” the court said.
It concluded that the prosecution succeeded in establishing that the convict had committed Aggravated Penetrative Sexual Assault with the minor after wrongfully confining him.
Title: VICKY v. STATE OF N.C.T. OF DELHI
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 1241