Though Courts Are Duty Bound To Consider Rights Of Victim, They Cannot Overlook Rights Of Accused: Delhi HC
The Delhi High Court has observed that courts cannot overlook or brush aside the rights of an accused or a convict.
“The criminal courts, though are duty bound to consider the rights of victim, they cannot, at the same time, overlook or brush aside the rights of an accused or a convict. A person who gets convicted has a statutory right to challenge the conviction in a higher court as well as seek suspension of sentence.”, the bench of Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma observed.
The Court further noted that it is the duty of the courts to ensure that the rights of the victim and of the accused are balanced.
The Court asserted that when an accused is in judicial custody, the Court must provide early hearings by providing short dates to ensure speedy trial, depending on facts and circumstances of each case.
In this case, the petitioners were convicted for offence punishable under Sections 363/411 of Indian Penal Code.
After the pronouncement of judgment of conviction, the petitioners-convicts were taken into judicial custody and the date for hearing arguments on point of sentence was fixed ten weeks thereafter.
It was prayed that since there is no provision in Cr.P.C. to either challenge conviction or seek suspension of sentence and bail without passing of order on sentence, the petitioners, in the meanwhile, may be released from judicial custody.
Advocate M. Hasibuddin appeared for petitioners whereas ASC Rupali Bandhopadhya appeared for the State.
The Court noted that while being in judicial custody, post the pronouncement of judgment of conviction, the petitioners are remediless to either challenge their conviction or seek suspension of sentence and grant of bail, till the time order on sentence is also passed.
The Court observed that if a Court takes an accused into custody after pronouncement of judgment and adjourns the matter to a long date, a valuable right of the convict remains suspended.
“In case a Court takes an accused into custody after pronouncement of judgment and adjourns the matter to a long date for the purpose of hearing the parties on point of sentence, a valuable right of the convict remains suspended, since as already stated above, the person can neither challenge the conviction nor seek suspension of sentence and bail till order on sentence is also pronounced.”, the Court emphasised.
The Court held that when an accused is in judicial custody, it is the duty of the Court to provide early hearings by providing short dates to ensure speedy trial.
Thus the Court cancelled the date fixed by the Trial Court for hearing arguments on sentence.
“Considering the overall facts and circumstances of the case, the date fixed by the learned Trial Court for hearing arguments on sentence i.e. 04.02.2023 stands cancelled. The parties are directed to appear before the learned Trial Court on 09.01.2023 when the Court shall take up the matter for hearing, and shall call for reports [in compliance of judgment of Karan v. State NCT of Delhi (supra)] expeditiously by specifying the dates for calling such reports, if not received yet, and also fix earliest possible date to hear arguments on sentence as per law.”, the Court directed.
Cause Title- Saad Ahmed Siddiqui (In J.C.) & Ors. v. State (Govt. of NCT of Delhi) (Neutral Citation No. 2023/DHC/000037)