All HC | Trial Court has the duty to ensure that an accused gets a fair trial; and “real and effective” aid is provided to him under S. 304 of CrPC

Allahabad High Court: Rajeev Singh, J. allowed an application of revision filed for quashing an order passed by Additional Sessions Judge (POCSO Act) under Sections 376, 506, 377 of the Penal Code, 1860 and Sections 3 and 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

In the present case, the revisionist Shadaan Ansari being unable to engage a lawyer was provided an amicus curie by the trial court at expense of the state. The prosecution carried out Examination-in-Chief of the witnesses before the trial court. The amicus curie refused to cross examine the witnesses stating that it was not real and effective in this case. The revisionist filed for an application under Section 311 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 to recall the witnesses for their cross examination but it was rejected by the court with the observation that the Amicus Curiae denied the cross-examination on the advise of the revisionist.

Counsel for the revisionist, Bipin Kumar Tiwari, submitted that the intention of Section 304 of CrPC. is for providing real and effective aid to an accused and it is the duty of the trial court to ensure proper compliance of the requirement as the accused also has the right to fair trial. In support of his submission he placed reliance on Mohd. Hussain & Julfikar Ali v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi), (2012) 9 SCC 408. He further submitted that if adequate legal aid has not been provided, it is a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Counsel for the State, Aniruddh Kumar Singh, submitted that there is nothing illegal in the order passed by the court in rejecting the recall of witnesses for cross examination as the opportunity for the same was already given to the amicus curiae and it was turned down. He further submitted that it was clear that the trial court while rejecting the impugned order observed that the opportunity to cross examine the witnesses was given to the amicus curie but he denied it on the advice of the revisionist

The Court allowed the application for revision and quashed the impugned order of Additional Sessions Judge. Placing reliance on Suk Das v. Union Territory of Arunachal Pradesh, (1986) 2 SCC 401 and Mohd. Hussain v. State (Govt. of NCT) of Delhi, (2012) 2 SCC 584, the Court held that that if the adequate legal aid has not been provided to the accused during the trial, then it is violative of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. 

It was opined that the legal aid provided to the revisionist by the amicus curie was not real and effective, as the amicus curie had denied cross-examination of the witness. In view thereof, the Court set aside the impugned order and ordered the trial court to recall all the prosecution witnesses, and cross-examine them. [Shadaan Ansari v. State of U.P., 2020 SCC OnLine All 19, decided on 14-01-2020]

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