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Report No. 239

8. Measures to be taken after the Court is seized of the matter (during trial):

(a) The cases in which delays are occurring in cognizable cases against influential public persons as well as others by reason of conduct of the accused or inaction on the part of the Police or prosecution, should be brought to the notice of District Judge who shall, if necessary, take up the issue with the SP/SSP.

(b) In Sessions cases, if there are inordinate delays attributable to the accused/police/prosecution, and the ADJs trying the case feel helpless, it should be brought to the notice of District Judge who shall apprise the SP/SSP of the problem at the earliest and alert them to initiate necessary action by way of apprehending the accused or producing the witnesses. Inspite of that if the Police do not respond, the District Judge shall send up a special report to the High Court especially if the case relates to an influential public person.

(c) Similarly, the District Judge should inform the High Court wherever inordinate delays are experienced by the District Judge in the trial of Sessions cases and the SP/SSP is not taking sufficient action.

(d) There must be special drive to secure the attendance of Proclaimed offenders.

(e) Applications for witness protection should be promptly disposed of by the trial Courts by giving appropriate directions to the Police.

(f) There must be a Special Cell in the High Court exclusively to take stock of old pending Sessions cases. The Cell headed by a Registrar level officer should promptly bring to the notice of the concerned Administrative/Portfolio Judge or any other Judge/Committee nominated by the Chief Justice for this purpose, the factum of pendency of such cases, the District Judge's report, if any, and the reasons furnished for prolongation of the cases.

It is desirable that the Judges of High Court who have comparatively less administrative work, are entrusted with the job of taking effective measures to check the delays and pave the way for early conclusion of criminal trials. In this process, the concerned Administrative/Portfolio Judge may also be associated. The Special Cell should regularly coordinate with the Committee. The said Committee based on the information received from the District Judge in the quarterly statement or otherwise, should take necessary measures on the administrative side to remove the bottlenecks in the progress of trial, for instance, by way of giving necessary instructions to the DGP/DIG/SP.

(g) In the quarterly statements also, the District Judges should record brief reasons for the delay in Sessions cases which are more than 3 years old from the date of framing the charges and inter-alia they must state whether the case relates to an influential public person.

(h) Top priority should be given to the Sessions cases especially those related to influential public persons which are more than 5 years old (or even less depending on the workload position). The concerned High Court Committee should bestow special attention to such cases and review the progress from time to time so that the trial concludes most expeditiously. If necessary, the Committee may take steps for the transfer of such cases to the Court having less workload. Obviously, however, the Committee of High Court ought not to say anything even indirectly on the merits of the case, even if obstructionist tactics are adopted by the accused for some reason or the other.

(i) The norm of continuity of trial shall be strictly observed in all cases (above 5 year old or even less depending on the workload positron), more especially in the cases related to important political persons. As a part of case management process, a calendar of dates should be drawn up for trial in consultation with the learned advocates and PP and the time- schedule shall be substantially adhered to. The High Court may, from time to time issue circulars stressing the need to adhere to the time- schedule and refusal of adjournments (unless there are special and exceptional reasons) and they shall be exhibited on the notice-board of the Court and Bar Association.

By assuming a more proactive role in taking various measures as stated above, the High Courts will only be acting within the purview of the jurisdiction and authority conferred on them under Articles 235 and 227 of the Constitution of India as well as Section 483 of Cr. P.C. However, to make the position more clear, certain amendments to Cr. P.C. as per Annexure are desirable. High Courts have to frame Rules or issue Circulars in exercise of the powers conferred by the proposed provisions in Annexure. In any case, the High Courts can very well invoke Art. 235 of the Constitution to play their due role in ensuring speedy disposal of criminal cases.

(j) The High Court, on the judicial side, should give top priority to the disposal of quash petitions/revisions in the pending trial matters. Records are not to be called for in such cases unless the perusal of any original document is found necessary. The trial can go on unless there is specific order of stay and this can be made clear by a circular issued by High Court.

(k) The Special Cell should bring to the notice of Chief Justice from time to time the Sessions and other cases involving major crimes pending trial in which proceedings are stayed or the records are called for. In this connection, the recent judgment of Supreme Court in Imtiyaz Ahmed v. State of U.P., 2012(2) SCALE 81 is quite relevant.

(l) Any representation by the aggrieved persons or victims regarding undue delay in the disposal of criminal cases shall receive due attention of the District Judge as well as the High Court Committee. Any such representations received by the Registry should be forwarded to the Special Cell.

(m) The Special Cell should also keep record of Sessions Cases or other cases punishable with imprisonment of more than 3 years against the advocates, as pointed out by the Law Commission of India in its written submissions to the Allahabad High Court (Lucknow Bench) in W.P. No. 9925 (M/B) of 2010, and place the information before the Committee of Judges so that appropriate directions may be given by the Committee to ensure early disposal of such cases.



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