Top
News Updates

Every Judge Shall Inform Convict About His Right To Appeal And To Avail Legal Assistance: Calcutta HC Issues Guidelines [Read Judgment]

Apoorva Mandhani
2 Aug 2017 5:11 AM GMT
Every Judge Shall Inform Convict About His Right To Appeal And To Avail Legal Assistance: Calcutta HC Issues Guidelines [Read Judgment]
Your free access to Live Law has expired
To read the article, get a premium account.
    Your Subscription Supports Independent Journalism
Subscription starts from
599+GST
(For 6 Months)
Premium account gives you:
  • Unlimited access to Live Law Archives, Weekly/Monthly Digest, Exclusive Notifications, Comments.
  • Reading experience of Ad Free Version, Petition Copies, Judgement/Order Copies.
Already a subscriber?

The Calcutta High Court recently expressed concern over the “dismal failure in the matter of extending effective legal aid/assistance to convicts”, and made it mandatory for Judges across the State to inform convicts of their right to file an appeal and legal aid while disposing of a case.

The guidelines were issued by Justice Joymalya Bagchi in an Appeal filed by one Ms. Malati Sardar whose appeal took 6 years to reach the Court due to non-appointment of a lawyer on her behalf.

“Under such circumstances, I am of the opinion that a procedure is required to be laid down so that legal aid/assistance to every convict to prefer appeal against judgment and order of conviction and sentence is promptly intimated to him at the time of delivery of the judgment itself so that the fundamental right to legal aid/assistance may be effectively availed of as a vibrant reality and does not become a distant mirage in the inert letters of legal classics,” the Court therefore, opined.

It then issued the following directions:



  1. Every Judge while pronouncing a judgment of conviction and sentence shall inform the convict in a language which is understandable to him, his right to prefer appeal against such judgment including his right to avail of legal aid in that regard from the appropriate legal services authority under the Act of 1987. In the event, the appellant expresses his desire to prefer appeal with legal aid, the Judge shall send a free copy of the judgment to the Secretary of the concerned legal services authority attached to the appellate Court for necessary steps in the matter.


  2. The aforesaid fact shall be endorsed at the foot of every judgment stating clearly that the right to prefer appeal with legal aid has been duly communicated to the understanding of the convict. Response thereto of the convict shall also be indicated in the body of the judgment.


  3. Necessary amendments may be made to Chapter X of the Calcutta High Court Criminal (Subordinate Courts) Rules, 1985 so that such duty is imposed on the trial Judge at the time of delivery of judgment.


  4.   In addition thereto, Superintendent of the Correctional Home where the convict is received upon conviction shall also communicate to him such right and record his willingness, if any, to prefer appeal with legal aid in the records of the Correctional Home. In the event, the convict desires to prefer appeal with legal aid, the Superintendent of the concerned Correctional Home shall forth remit necessary papers not only to the registry of the appellate Court but also to the Secretary of the concerned legal services authority attached to the said Court for necessary steps in the matter.


  5. Secretary of the concerned legal services authority attached to the appellate Court on receipt of the papers from the trial Judge or the Correctional Home authorities, as the case may be, shall immediately but not later than seven days appoint a lawyer from its panel, who has sufficient knowledge and expertise to deal with such cases, to prefer and prosecute the appeal on behalf of the appellant.


  6. The lawyer so appointed shall, if necessary, interview the convict in the correctional home, file necessary pleadings in Court and prosecute the appeal in accordance with law. He shall submit quarterly reports to the Secretary of the concerned legal services authority as to steps taken by him and the status of the appeal till its disposal.


  7. Registrar General of the High Court is directed to circulate a copy of this order to every judicial officer in the State of West Bengal to ensure that the aforesaid directions are duly complied with. He shall also initiate the procedure for amendment of the Criminal Rules and Orders, as proposed in the direction no.(c), by the High Court in accordance with law.


  8. Secretary, State Legal Services Authority shall circulate a copy of this order to all the Secretaries of the District and Sub-divisional Legal Services Authorities and give wide publicity to these directions amongst the general public for prompt and effective implementation of such directions.


  9. Department is directed to communicate this order to the Director General of Correctional Services, West Bengal, who shall communicate this order to the Superintendents of all the Correctional Homes in the State of West Bengal for prompt and effective implementation of the directions.”


It, thereafter, directed the Registrar General of the Court, State Legal Services Authority and Director General of Correctional Services, West Bengal to submit compliance reports on the next date of hearing.

Read the Judgment Here

Next Story