Report No. 77
Sessions cases should be given precedence over all other work and no other work should be taken up on sessions days until the sessions work for the day is compiled.
A sessions case once posted should not be postponed unless that is unavoidable, and once the trial has begun, it should proceed continuously from day-to-day till it is completed. If for any reason, a case has to be postponed or adjourned, intimation should be given forthwith to both sides, and immediate step be taken to stop the witnesses and secure their presence on the adjourned date.
On receipt of the order of commitment the case should be posted for trial to as early a date as possible, sufficient time, say, three weeks, being allowed for securing the witnesses. Ordinarily, it should be possible to post two session cases a week, the first on Monday and the second on Thursday, but sufficient time should be allowed for each case so that one case does not telescope into the next.
Every endeavour should be made to avoid telescoping and for this, if necessary, the court should commence sitting earlier and continue sitting later than the normal hours. If the entire day is devoted solely to sessions work and if proper control over the proceedings is exercised by the judge, the ordinary run of cases should not take more than two days and only very heavy cases need go beyond the third day. Judgment in the case begun on Monday should ordinarily be pronounced in the course of the week and that begun on Thursday the following Monday.
Appeals and Revisions
These should be posted as early as possible, usually within three weeks of institution. The pasting should be made as far as possible in consultation with both sides and so as not to clash with sessions work. These cases should be given precedence over all other work, except sessions work, and, ordinarily no adjournment should be given although there is no great harm in following the "one adjournment" rule followed by some judges whereby one short adjournment (and no more) of a week or ten days is given on request.
Inquiries and Trials by Magistrates
The posting of cases involving the examination of witnesses should be so made that the number of witnesses summoned for a day should not really exceed the number that can be examined. A Magistrate should know, roughly speaking, how many witnesses can be examined in the time left after dealing with cases not involving the examination of witnesses. If, for instance, eight witnesses can be examined not more than ten or twelve should be summoned for the day and cases for trial must be posted accordingly.
Of course, there can be no hard and fast rule. It might be that in one case there are a, large number of short witnesses while in another there are few witnesses, but each with a long story to tell. However, with some care in posting, it should be possible to ensure that, by and large, the witnesses in attendance on a day are examined on that day or at least on the following day.
Each stage of a case should be tried continuously from day-to-day as enjoined by section 344 of the Criminal Procedure Code and while the posting should, as far as possible, be made to suit the convenience of both sides, adjournments should be granted only for sufficient cause.
When the accused is not in custody or has not been bound over and his presence has to be secured. The case may first be posted for the appearance of the accused. In a summons case the questioning of the accused under section 242 of the Code should be done on the very day of his appearance and if there is no conviction under section 243 the case should be posted to a convenient date as early as possible for the examination of the prosecution witnesses.
The prosecution witnesses should be examined continuously and at the close of the prosecution evidence, the accused should straightaway be examined under section 342 of the Code. Thereafter, if the accused wants witnesses to be examined in his defence, the case should be adjourned to some convenient date as early as possible for the examination of defence witnesses who should also be examined continuously. Arguments should he heard on the completion of the evidence and ordinarily no adjournment should be given for the purpose.
In a preliminary enquiry under section 207A, that section itself requires that the case should ordinarily be posted for enquiry within fourteen days of the receipt of the charge-sheet, a later date being permissible only for reasons to be recorded in writing. Here too, the witnesses for the prosecution should be examined continuously and at the close of the evidence it should be possible to examine the accused and complete the enquiry and either frame a charge or decide to discharge the accused.
In an enquiry under section 208, the prosecution witnesses should be examined continuously and the accused examined at the close of the prosecution evidence. Then an adjournment should be given if there are witnesses for the defence and such witnesses should also be examined continuously. Arguments, if any should be heard on the completion of the evidence and a charge framed or a decision to discharge the accused taken without delay.
In warrant cases instituted on a police report, the stage of discharging the accused under section 251A(2) or framing a charge under section 251A(3) can be reached on the very day of the accused's appearance. If there is no conviction under section 251A(5), the case should be adjourned to a convenient date as early as possible for the examination of the prosecution witnesses whose examination must proceed continuously.
At the close of the prosecution evidence the accused should be examined, and, if he has witnesses to summon in his defence the case should be adjourned to some convenient date for the examination of defence witnesses which also should be done continuously. Arguments if any should be heard forthwith and the trial closed.
Likewise, in a case instituted otherwise than on a police report, each stage of the case should be heard continuously and arguments heard on the closing of the evidence.