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[Breaking] SC Sets Aside Death Sentence In A 13 Day Trial, Says 'Fast Tracking Must Not Result In Burial Of Justice' [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
18 Dec 2019 12:59 PM GMT
[Breaking] SC Sets Aside Death Sentence In A 13 Day Trial, Says Fast Tracking Must Not Result In Burial Of Justice [Read Judgment]
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"In the pursuit for expeditious disposal, the cause of justice must never be allowed to suffer or be sacrificed."

The Supreme Court has observed that expeditious disposal of criminal cases must never result in burying the cause of justice. The bench comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Krishna Murari set aside a death penalty awarded to a rape and murder accused in a trial that finished within thirteen days.Anokhilal was convicted and sentenced to death in March 2013...

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The Supreme Court has observed that expeditious disposal of criminal cases must never result in burying the cause of justice.

The bench comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Krishna Murari set aside a death penalty awarded to a rape and murder accused in a trial that finished within thirteen days.

Anokhilal was convicted and sentenced to death in March 2013 for committing the murder of a minor girl, aged nine years, after raping and performing carnal sex with her. The entire trial finished within thirteen days. The Madhya Pradesh High Court upheld the death penalty in June 2013. 

In the appeal filed by the convict before the Apex Court, appearing on behalf of the accused, for Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra, submitted that the Amicus Curiae appointed by the Trial Court to defend the accused did not have sufficient opportunity to study the matter nor did he have any opportunity to have any interaction with the accused to seek appropriate instruction. It was also contended that no report was obtained from any Probation Officer who could have given valuable inputs as to whether the case called for any leniency on any count.

In the judgment, the bench noted that the Amicus Curiae did not get the sufficient time to go through even the basic documents, nor the advantage of any discussion or interaction with the accused, and time to reflect over the matter. It said:

"In the present case, the Amicus Curiae, was appointed on 19.02.2013, and on the same date, the counsel was called upon to defend the accused at the stage of framing of charges. One can say with certainty that the Amicus Curiae did not have sufficient time to go through even the basic documents, nor the advantage of any discussion or interaction with the accused, and time to reflect over the matter. Thus, even before the Amicus Curiae could come to grips of the matter, the charges were framed."

The bench observed:

Expeditious disposal is undoubtedly required in criminal matters and that would naturally be part of guarantee of fair trial. However, the attempts to expedite the process should not be at the expense of the basic elements of fairness and the opportunity to the accused, on which postulates, the entire criminal administration of justice is founded. In the pursuit for expeditious disposal, the cause of justice must never be allowed to suffer or be sacrificed. What is paramount is the cause of justice and keeping the basic ingredients which secure that as a core idea and ideal, the process may be expedited, but fast tracking of process must never ever result in burying the cause of justice.

Setting aside the judgments of conviction and orders of sentence passed by the Trial Court and the High Court against the accused, the bench directed de novo consideration of the case.

Click here to Read/Download Judgment




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