Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by Economic Times, the Ministry of Home Affairs in consultation with the Bureau of Police Research and Development is considering amendments to the criminal laws of the country. The laws under consideration for amendment are Penal Code, 1860, Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and Evidence Act, 1872.

Some of the proposals being looked at are:

  1. Diluting the right of appeal to avoid inordinate delays in certain cases, like the 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape case, where the convicts are using legal remedies to seek relief from capital punishment. A ministry official clarified that any amendments to CrPC or revision process would be legally examined as the Supreme Court (Enlargement of Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction) Act, 1970 confers to the Supreme Court the power to hear an appeal from any judgment, final order or sentence in a criminal proceeding of a high court for certain cases.
  2. Adopting certain features of the inquisitorial system which is followed in Germany and France to make the current adversarial system more effective. For example, in the inquisitorial system, the investigation is supervised by the judicial magistrate which leads to a higher rate of conviction
  3. Classifying crimes as blue-collar, white-collar, red-collar, green-collar and black-collar crimes under Penal Code, 1860 to equip the police to deal with complex dynamics of internal security.
  4. Setting up modus operandi bureaus at national and state levels to study the technique of crimes and mentality of criminals.
  5. Setting up of National Police University and Forensic Science University with affiliated colleges in every state. This was suggested by Home Minister, Amit Shah to create skilled manpower to tackle complex cases with advanced forensic capabilities instead of the use of third-degree and torture to solve cases.

A home ministry official said that the new laws should be in accordance with the democratic aspirations of people and provide speedy justice to women, children and weaker sections of society. Suggestions have been sought from all states and union territories, the official added.


[Source: Economic Times]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Deciding an appeal filed by the State against acquittal of the accused for an offence under Section 354 of the Penal Code, the Bench of Sunita Gupta, J., reversed the acquittal and held that there is no legal impediment in convicting a person on the sole testimony of a single witness. In a case where an FIR was filed against the gym instructor and who despite the complainant’s refusal, forceably, in the garb of giving her a body massage pressed her thighs and touched her private parts, the accused was acquitted by the Metropolitan Magistrate on the ground that during the cross-examination of the complainant, it had come that  there was one more lady present inside the gym and that lady was not examined by prosecution. Since that lady was an independent witness, conviction could not be based on the solitary testimony of the complainant. The Public Prosecutor submitted that the trial court fell in error in acquitting the respondent solely on account of non-examination of one more lady who was alleged to be present in the gym and no reason was assigned as to why the testimony of the complainant should be disbelieved.

On the other hand, learned counsel for the respondent submitted that this appeal is against acquittal and, therefore, no interference is called for. It was further submitted that the prosecution case is based on solitary testimony of the complainant.

Rejecting the reasoning of the trial court and in the light of the above arguments, the Court held that the law under Section 134 of the Evidence Act, 1872 states that the Court may act on the testimony of a single witness on a condition that he is wholly reliable according to the wellsettled principle that evidence has to be weighed and not counted. The Court further held that non-investigation regarding presence of any other girl in the gym at the time of incident can be termed as lapse on the part of Investigating Officer however, the defect in the investigation cannot be a ground for acquittal and if primacy is given to such negligent investigation or lapses by perfunctory investigation, the faith and confidence of the people in the criminal justice administrated would be destroyed. Thus, merely that some other girl was present in the gym, who was not examined by prosecution is not enough to draw an adverse inference against the prosecution. [State (NCT of Delhi) v. Pratap Singh, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 3207, 25 May 2016].

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court– Expressing concern over the sordid state of affairs in the trial Courts in the State, the division bench of M.Jaichandren and S.Nagamuthu JJ., observed that when an unreasonable request for adjournment or unreasonable request to recall any witness is made and in the event, the trial Court turns down such request, the parties are advised to approach the High Court either under Section 482 CrPC or by way of revision, challenging the said order of the trial Court. The present case illustrates as to how the criminal justice delivery system could be taken for a ride by the unscrupulous men who are parties to the system.

In the instant case, the Court held that the Judge who had conducted the trial had demonstrably exhibited total indifference to his constitutional obligation to do speedy and real justice to the parties. He had allowed the witnesses to be dragged to Court and being harassed for many days. He did not record the reasons as to why the witnesses were again and again put in the witness box. He did not even record as to whether these witnesses were recalled at the instance of the accused or the prosecution. The learned Judge had only exhibited his ignorance in allowing the prosecutor to recall P.W.1 after several months to again examine the witness in chief examination when no new fact was in the hands of the learned public prosecutor to be introduced.

The Court further observed that fair investigation, fair and speedy trial and just verdict are the concomitants of right to life. Such right is not exclusive for the accused. The victim, their family members and the society at large are also entitled to have a fair trial and just verdict. The trial Court should ensure that both the accused and the witnesses, including the victims get a fair deal during trial and ultimately justice triumphs. The Court, after perusal of the facts and relevant case laws held that in order to maintain independence of the judiciary, the Judges should not allow any interference in their independent judicial thinking to do justice which is their Constitutional obligation. [Manikandan v. State, 2016 SCC OnLine Mad 2321, decided on 22.04.2016]