Accused Who Did Not Appear On The Date Of Judgment Not Entitled To Seek Judgment Copy As Of Right: SC

Accused Who Did Not Appear On The Date Of Judgment Not Entitled To Seek Judgment Copy As Of Right: SC

"The present petitioner having not appeared before the Court on the date of judgment cannot as of right seek for supply of the copy of the judgment"

The Supreme Court has observed that, an accused who did not appear before the Court on the date of judgment cannot as of right seek for supply of the copy of the judgment.

The Trial Court convicted Rajesh Ponnada for an offence Under Section 138 of Negotiable Instruments Act and sentenced him to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of six months and also issued non bailable warrant against him. On the date of pronouncement of judgment, as the accused remained absent, it also issued non bailable warrant against him.

His application seeking certified copy of the judgment was rejected citing objection "since the accused absconded at the judgment. Hence, CA returned" and "after appearance of the accused all copies of documents will be supplied."

He approached the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the state of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh contending that he did not want a free copy to be supplied to the accused but only the certified copy of the judgment. The High court dismissed his plea.

Dismissing the special leave petition, the bench comprising Justice R. Banumathi and Justice R. Subhash Reddy observed that the accused having not appeared before the Court on the date of judgment cannot as of right seek for supply of the copy of the judgment. The bench said:

"Section 353(6) Cr.P.C. stipulates that on the date of judgment, the accused has to be present unless on earlier occasions his personal appearance has been dispensed with. Section 363(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure provides that on being convicted, the accused is entitled to a copy of the judgment free of cost. Section 363(1) of Cr.P.C. entitling the accused for free copy of the judgment has to be read harmoniously with Section 353(6).The present petitioner having not appeared before the Court on the date of judgment cannot as of right seek for supply of the copy of the judgment"

Not Entitled To Certified Copy Also?

But interestingly, the accused had sought a certified copy of the judgment, and not a free copy. Rule 212 of Criminal Rules of Practice of the state, provides that, copies of any portion of the record of a Criminal Case must be furnished to the parties concerned on payment of the proper stamp and the authorized fee for copying. This judgment refers to Section 363(1) CrPC which deals with the entitlement of the accused to get copy of the judgment free of cost and not with his entitlement to certified copy of the judgment.

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