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Trial Judge Refers To Sanskrit Shloka, Jagjit Singh Ghazal While Awarding Sentence; Patna HC Says Judge Needs Training

Nupur Thapliyal
14 April 2021 6:31 AM GMT
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Patna High

Observing that a Trial Court Judge referred to Sanskrit shloka and ghazals of Late Jagjit Singh while awarding sentence to a man convicted under the POCSO Act, the Patna High Court observed that the trial judge "needs special training at the Judicial Academy."

The High Court set aside the sentence observing that the evidence brought out in the trial did not disclose the commission of any offence.

A single judge bench of Justice Birendra Kumar observed that a trial judge, having the power to award a death sentence, must have correct knowledge of legal principles and zeal while exercising "the most onerous responsibility of taking decision on the life and liberty of person".

"Lack of knowledge of legal principles leads to miscarriage of justice and unnecessary harassment to the parties to the litigation. Bias and prejudices, conjectures and surmises and personal views contrary to the material on the record have no place in the court of law." observed the Court.

At this juncture, the Court also was of the view that the trial court judgment and the present judgment must be forwarded to the Director of Bihar Judicial Academy for ensuring "proper academic training to judicial officers for making them conversant with correct legal proposition." In view of this, the Court ordered thus:

"Hon'ble the Chief Justice may deem it proper that the trial Judge who has passed the impugned judgment needs special training at the Judicial Academy. Hence let a copy of this judgment along with trial court judgment be placed before Hon'ble the Chief Justice for needful. The learned trial Judge has referred to against the appellant. A trial Judge especially a Judge having power to award death sentence must have correct knowledge of legal principles and zeal to its proper application while exercising the most onerous responsibility of taking decision on the life and liberty of person before him."

The observation came in an appeal made by one Deepak Mahto who was convicted and sentenced to ten years rigorous imprisonment under Section 18 of the POCSO Act by the trial judge.

According to the prosecution, the appellant had entered into the house of the prosecutrix, a 13 year old girl, and had allegedly forcefully established sexual relationship with her. He was later apprehended by the family and handed over to the police.

During the trial, the prosecutrix in her sec. 164 CrPC statement stated that he had not ravished her rather attempted to commit rape, but he could not succeed.

It was therefore the case of the appellant that none of the prosecution witnesses had supported any allegation against the appellant, hence the case was of "no evidence", but the trial Judge misunderstood the legal principles and relied upon the statement recorded under sec. 154 and 164 Cr.P.C. for concluding that the prosecution has proved the charge against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt.

After examining the evidence on record, the High Court observed that the commission of offence was not proved against the appellant. The prosecutrix, in her deposition before the trial court, had not disclosed what offence was committed against her.

The High Court while observing that the statements under sec. 154, 161 or 164 Cr.P.C. can be used only for corroboration and contradictions, the Court went ahead to observe thus:

"The impugned judgment reveals that the learned trial Court has accepted, the statements of the prosecutrix made prior to her examination as a prosecution witness as substantive evidence. As such, the impugned judgment suffers from non- application of correct principle of law while appreciating the evidence during a criminal trial."

While setting aside the said sentence passed by the trial judge, the Court observed thus:

"The learned trial Judge has referred to Sanskrit shloka and gajals of Late Jagjit Singh while awarding the sentence against the appellant. A trial Judge especially a Judge having power to award death sentence must have correct knowledge of legal principles and zeal to its proper application while exercising the most onerous responsibility of taking decision on the life and liberty of person before him. Lack of knowledge of legal principles leads to miscarriage of justice and unnecessary harassment to the parties to the litigation. Bias and prejudices, conjectures and surmises and personal views contrary to the material on the record have no place in the court of law."

Noting that the trial judge needs special training at the judicial academy, Justice Kumar also opined that a copy of the present judgment along with trial court judgment be placed before Hon'ble the Chief Justice for the needful.

Title: Deepak Mahto v. State of Bihar

Click Here To Download Judgement

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