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Report No. 14

10. Delays in criminal courts and the manner of conducting criminal cases.-

It was stated that criminal cases were not being disposed of expeditiously. Public Prosecutors and the prosecuting staff attached to magistrates' courts are under the administrative control of the Collectors and the Police Department. The prosecuting officers attached to the courts are transferred frequently. According to an experienced Advocate, "very often a case is handled by a number of Prosecuting Sub-Inspectors-one case sometimes will be handled by eight to ten Prosecuting Sub-Inspectors. One Prosecuting Sub-Inspector who may be incharge of the case for some time may not know what the case is.

That has resulted in acquittal in some cases because certain ingredients were not proved. Sometimes the Prosecuting Sub-Inspector was never aware that a particular question was required to be put to the witness." It was also stated that the prosecuting staff, being under the control of the Police Officials, did not feel free to express their true opinion about the facts of a case. A Government Advocate stated that about eighty-two per cent. of the criminal cases ultimately ended in acquittals and that in the trial courts the percentage was slightly less.

It was said that investigations were perfunctory and that considerable delays occurred in the disposal of criminal cases due to improper investigations and like causes. The City Magistrate, Ajmer, stated in his evidence that out of a total file of 175 cases in his court, 14 or 15 were over a year old and about 50 more than six months old. The following Table shows the number of criminal cases pending at the end of each quarter of the year 1955 and the duration of their pendency in the courts of magistrates:

Table No. 1

S. No.

Quarter ending

No. of cases pending at the close of the quarter

No. of cases pending for more than

3

6

1

months

months

year

1

2

3

4

5

6

1

31st March, 1955

18,416

6,079

4,118

2,297

2

30th June, 1955

18,721

5,783

3,992

1956

3

30th September, 1955

18,731

5,743

3,836

2,144

4

31st December, 1955

17,629

4,372

3,247

2,204

It would appear from the figures given in each quarter roughly about sixty per cent the above Table that at the close of of the cases brought to trial were pending for over three months. This state of affairs can be attributed to the fact that the magistrates bestow a step-motherly attention to the criminal cases, being engaged in executive work; the lack of proper and effective supervision over the magistracy would appear to be another cause. Supervision in this State over magistrates' courts is almost non-existent. In no district do the subordinate magistrates even send in time the returns due from them.

Even when they are received, the returns are not looked at so that they may serve the intended purpose. With one solitary exception, the District Magistrates did not pass a single remark on the condition of work of the subordinate courts, leaving aside the taking of any action against those guilty of neglect of or indifference to their duties. In this state of affairs it is surprising that arrears are not heavier than what they are. In the absence of separation no improvement is possible, unless Government makes it clear to the District Magistrates that they will be held responsible for the working of the criminal courts in the district. Intensive and sustained supervision on the lines set out by us earlier is an imperative necessity.

11. Inordinate delays have been noticed even in the trial of sessions cases. No sessions trial appears to proceed de die in diem. Long adjournments are granted on insufficient grounds and invariably adjournments are granted for arguments. This is a matter which is capable of being immediately set right by the High Court. We give below a few examples of delays in the trial of sessions cases.

Four accused charged with an offence under section 302, I.P.C. were committed to the Court of Additional Sessions Judge, Baran, wherein the case was registered on 12-10-1955; trial of this case was spread over a year; it was ultimately reserved for delivery of judgment on 30-11-1956. Sessions case No. 53 of 1955 on the file of the Sessions Court, Udaipur was registered on 16-12-1955. On.-11-1956 the defence evidence was closed and the case posted to.-12-1956 for examination of a court witness on which date it was adjourned to 20-12-1956 as the witness did not attend the court. Out of a total of 333 sessions cases pending at the close of the year 1955, 166 were pending for over three months.

The number of year old cases was 34 or roughly ten per cent. of the total pendency. We are unable to comprehend how such a state of affairs is allowed to continue. If the elementary precaution of binding over witnesses to appear in the court of session is taken, and coercive processes are promptly issued against defaulting witnesses and they are severely dealt with, whatever their position, there should be no difficulty in hearing sessions cases from day to day as in most States.



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