Guidelines issued for amending the Criminal Manuals for removing inadequacies and deficiencies in criminal trials

Supreme Court: Taking Suo Motu cognizance in respect of inadequacies and deficiencies in criminal trials, the bench of S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ issued notices to the Registrars General of all the High Courts, and the Chief Secretaries/the Administrators and the Advocates-General/Senior Standing Counsel of all the States/Union Territories, so that general consensus can be arrived at on the need to amend the relevant Rules of Practice/ Criminal Manuals to bring about uniform best practices across the country.

The Court also specified the below mentioned areas to be considered to achieve the said goal:

  • Discouragement of the practice of the Trial Judge leaving the recording of deposition to the clerk concerned and recording of evidence going on in more than one case in the same Court room, at the same time.
  • Recording the depositions of witnesses in typed format, using computers, in Court, to the dictation of the presiding officers, in English wherever possible, so that readable true copies are available straightaway and can be issued to both sides on the date of examination itself. Also, the deposition of each witness must be recorded dividing it into separate paragraphs assigning para numbers to facilitate easy reference to specific portions.
  • Witnesses/documents/material objects be assigned specific nomenclature and numbers.
  • Every judgment must mandatorily have a preface showing the name of the parties and an appendix showing the list of Prosecutions Witnesses, Prosecution Exhibits, Defence Witnesses, Defence Exhibits, Court witnesses, Court Exhibits and Material Objects.
  • The practice of referring to the names of the accused/witnesses and documents descriptively in the proceedings paper and judgments creates a lot of confusion. Whenever there is need to refer to them by name their rank as Accused/Witness must be shown in brackets.
  • Repetition of pleadings, evidence, and arguments in the judgments and orders of the Trial Court, Appellate and Revisional Courts must be avoided.
  • In every case file, a judgment folder to be maintained, and the first para in the appellate/revisional judgment to be numbered as the next paragraph after the last para in the impugned judgment.
  • In order to help the judges to have a clearer and surer understanding of the situs of the injuries, the Investigating Officer should obtain or procure the wound certificate/ post mortem certificate showing the front and rear sketch of the human torso showing the injuries listed in the medical documents specifically.
  • The contradictions/omissions must be properly marked.
  • The Trial Courts must be mandatorily obliged to specify in the Judgment the period of set off under Section 428 Cr.P.C specifying date and not leave it to be resolved later by jail authorities or successor presiding officers.

[IN RE: TO ISSUE CERTAIN GUIDELINES REGARDING INADEQUACIES AND DEFICIENCIES IN CRIMINAL TRIALS, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 298, order dated 30.03.2017]

 

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