Report No. 154
Issue No. 7-Adjournments in Trial
Views of Judges
Only one Judge has suggested that section 309 be amended on similar lines as of the provisions as contained in section 14 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987. Two/three are of the view that it requires some amendment but the way out they have not suggested. One does not agree with any change in the section. However, nine judges have not touched upon the issue.
Twenty-seven Judicial Officers are of the view that section 309 may suitably be amended and no unwanted adjournments be granted. Some of them are of the view that the time limit should be fixed for the disposal of cases and in case of non-disposal of the cases, the matter should be referred to the Supreme Court/High Court. Sixteen officers have not responded clearly and one is silent.
The Institute of Judicial Training & Research (U.P.) Lucknow has suggested to make the provisions that if a complainant seeks adjournments beyond the limit fixed by the Code, the interim order will be passed in favour of opposite party and in the case of the accused the bail granted the accused shall stand automatically cancelled till the next date.
Views of Advocates/Government Pleaders/Bar Associations
Two/three advocates are of the view that no trial ought to be permitted to be adjourned once it has begun except in very rare cases. One of them has suggested the measure of inflicting penalty on witnesses not present and converting the statement recorded under section 161 and signed by them as evidence in examination-in-chief with limited evidentiary value attached to it would go a long way. Of course the problem of defence not getting the benefit of cross-examination of such witness is to be tackled.
Proceeding with the case even in the absence of an Advocate, who had been told about the date would go a long way in curbing the menace of adjournments under flimsy grounds. Another Advocate further has suggested that the Judges may be required to sit as long as necessary in order to complete their calender. Six Pleaders have not responded to the issue. The Madras Bar Association has suggested, "it need not be amended. High Courts can impress upon Subordinate Courts to adhere to section 309 strictly".
Views of Academicians
Only Dr. K.N. Chandrasekharan Pillai has responded to the proposal saying that the provisions in Explanation 2 under section 309 might be emphasised to discourage the tendency of parties to seek adjournments and section 309 may be amended accordingly.
Views of Police Officers
Shri H.J. Dora, I.P.S. has welcomed the proposed amendment of section 309 and Shri C. Anjaneya Reddy, 1.P.S. has agreed with the problem, however, he has not suggested any solution for the same. Remaining two officers have not responded.
Views of the State Law Commissions
The Himachal Pradesh Law Commission has suggested for quick service of summons for the presence of the witnesses by a separate investigating agency. Further a necessary amendment should be made thereby creating a duty on the magistrate or on a court to record reasons for adjournments.
Views of State Governments
On this issue, nothing has been suggested by the Government of Gujarat.