The Bombay High Court Court has sought an explanation from a sessions judge over the delay in completing a murder trial despite its September 30, 2022, order directing the conclusion of the trial within six months.
The high court also reprimanded the sessions judge for failing to comply with its order to expedite the trial by hearing it on a day-to-day basis.
“The order passed by the higher Court when it directs that the judge shall fix the trial on a day-to-day basis does not indicate that the judge shall only fill the pages of roznama (daily record of proceeding) and record the happenings that the witness are absent or the accused is not produced from jail,” Justice Bharati Dangre said.
It also chided the session judge for not taking “positive steps” to ensure the presence of witnesses and the accused in the case to proceed with the trial.
It said, “Not a single positive step has been taken by the in-charge court to ensure the presence of witnesses and also to secure the presence of the accused on the concerned date. In this scenario, a direction is issued calling upon an explanation from the judge,” Justice Dangre directed.
The HC was hearing a plea by one Shishirkumar Padhy, seeking bail, who was arrested in January 2016 in a murder and house trespass case.
This is Padhy’s second bail plea.
Prosecutor SR Agarkar informed the court that five out of 10 witnesses had been examined so far in the trial.
Trial spread across a week
The Justice took note of the fact that the trial was not taking place on a day-to-day basis but was spread across a week.
The high court also expressed displeasure saying that the prosecution too had taken “too lightly” its own obligations to ensure the presence of witnesses during trial.
The judge also faulted the trial court for failing to secure the presence of the accused on some dates of the hearing.
Accused continue to languish in jail
Some accountability ought to be imposed on trial courts in such matters, especially when the accused are incarcerated for a long time, Justice Dangre noted, adding that the accused continue to languish in jail for long periods while awaiting trial.
“This is one but many of the cases with a similar scenario. Time and again, I have expressed that some accountability deserves to be fixed, and when I say accountability, it is not only procedural but possibly on the courts, who are in the seizure of such trials and particularly when the accused are incarcerated for such a long time,” the judge underscored.
While granting bail to Padhy, the high court once again directed the sessions judge to complete the trial in six months.