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Report No. 77

Chapter 12

Criminal Cases

12.1. Importance of oral evidence.-

Most of our general observations about civil cases, apart from those relating strictly to procedure, would also hold good for criminal cases. There is one aspect which we want particularly to highlight. The chances of miscarriage of justice as a result of delay in the hearing and disposal of court cases is much greater in criminal cases than in civil cases. The decision of a civil case generally depends more upon documentary evidence than upon oral evidence.

As against that, the decision of a criminal case depends more upon oral testimony of witnesses than upon documentary evidence, the chances of the fading out of memory in some essential matters are considerable as a result of passage of time. Apart from that, there are also possibilities of the material witnesses succumbing to undue pressure and being won over, if there be long time lag between the actual occurrence and the date of recording of their depositions in court. It is, therefore, essential, so far as criminal cases are concerned, that the delay in their disposal be eliminated as far as possible.

Delay and Arrears in Trial Courts Back

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