SC Cautions Trial Courts Against Granting Adjournments After Commencement Of Evidence [Read Order]

We hope that the presiding officers of the trial courts conducting criminal trials will be mindful of not giving such adjournments after commencement of the evidence in serious criminal cases, the bench said.

Depreciating the trend of criminal courts adjourning the cases for a long interval after commencement of evidence, the Supreme Court, in Doongar Singh vs State of Rajasthan, reiterated that the trial courts must carry out the mandate of Section 309 of the CrPC and shall be mindful of not giving such adjournments.

A bench of Justice AK Goel and Justice UU Lalit also observed that the eye-witnesses must be examined by the prosecution as soon as possible and their statements should invariably be recorded under Section 164 of the CrPC, as per prescribed procedure.

The court made this observation while dismissing an appeal in a murder case, wherein it noted that the trial court had given repeated months long adjournment after the main witness was examined in chief.

The bench found this ‘disturbing’ and observed: “The trial court has to be mindful that for the protection of witness and also in the interest of justice the mandate of Section 309 of the CrPC. has to be complied with and evidence should be recorded on continuous basis. If this is not done, there is every chance of witnesses succumbing to the pressure or threat of the accused.”

Referring to the decision in State of UP versus Shambhu Nath Singh and Others, the bench said once examination of witnesses begins, the same has to be continued from day-to-day unless evidence of the available witnesses is recorded, except when adjournment beyond the following day has to be granted for reasons recorded.

The court also cited some other decisions cautioning the Court against granting such adjournments and remarked: “In spite of repeated directions of this Court, the situation appears to have remained unremedied.”

It said statements of eye-witnesses are recorded during investigation itself under Section 164 of the CrPC, by audio-video electronic means.

Read the Order Here