5 July 2023 4:04 AM GMT
Highlighting the importance of a fair trial, the Delhi High Court has observed that upholding the fundamental right of an accused to effective legal assistance cannot mean ineffective hearings or lack of opportunities to the prosecution. “Prosecuting offenders to the full extent as law describes is a delicate task and cannot be performed without being awarded effective opportunity to...
Highlighting the importance of a fair trial, the Delhi High Court has observed that upholding the fundamental right of an accused to effective legal assistance cannot mean ineffective hearings or lack of opportunities to the prosecution.
“Prosecuting offenders to the full extent as law describes is a delicate task and cannot be performed without being awarded effective opportunity to prosecute and assist the Court to ensure smooth functioning of criminal justice system,” Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma said.
The court added that a public prosecutor has the right to examine a prosecution witness who resiled from the statements made in the cross-examination and turned hostile.
Justice Sharma said that it is the duty of the trial court to ensure that the prosecutor is not arbitrarily denied the opportunity to avail the legitimate right.
“This duty of the Court assumes even greater significance when the witness turns hostile during cross-examination that occurs after a significant lapse of time,” the court said.
It also observed that while the accused has a right to be considered innocent until proven guilty and his counsel has a right to defend him, the State has an “equal right” to defend its case and prove the accused guilty by effectively presenting the case and evidence before court through the prosecutors.
The court said that it cannot be overlooked that the job of a public prosecutor is not only to work towards defending the State but a more “onerous duty” of placing the entire material collected by the investigating agency before the court to help it reach a just decision.
“The duty of a Judge is to ensure justice in its purest form which connotes that justice should be done after evaluating, without fear or favour, the material on record and the testimonies of the witnesses and if the accused is found guilty, punishing him and giving relief and justice to the complainant. The myth generally is that by doing so, the judge is doing justice only to the complainant whereas in reality, the Judge is performing a higher duty of not only giving justice to the complainant before that particular criminal Court, but also to the State by ensuring that the offender is punished so that the public can be safeguarded from his further criminal actions, if any,” the court added.
Justice Sharma also said that a trial court judge has to balance the right of an accused to a fair trial with that of the State and the complainant through the prosecutor.
“To sum up, the right of the prosecution, and the State to be heard, therefore, has to be given same weightage, importance and sanctity lest the fair trial is vitiated. The State comes before the Court with a duty to place on record all available legal evidences, facts and present its case with legitimate persuasive strength and fairness. It is not for a prosecutor to function as if he has to win or lose, but efficiently perform his duties with a sense of dignity and justness in the judicial adjudicatory process,” the court said.
The court made the observations while dealing with a plea moved by a man convicted for the offences under sections 326 and 324 of Indian Penal Code. On April 13, 2009, he was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years.
Upholding his conviction, the court noted that the man was sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years and has already remained in judicial custody for about 1 year and 5 months. Justice Sharma reduced his sentence of imprisonment to the period already undergone.
“In this Court‟s opinion, the appellant has already faced agony of going through the criminal trial for about 15 years including the period of pendency of this appeal,” the court said.
Title: ANTOSH v. STATE
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 553
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