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Posted at: Nov 15, 2017, 2:01 AM; last updated: Nov 15, 2017, 12:41 PM (IST)

HC for action against judge who convicted 2 without trial

HC for action against judge who convicted 2 without trial

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 14

Nearly three years after a Moga Additional District and Sessions Judge illegally sentenced two persons to life imprisonment in a murder case without putting them to trial, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has castigated the judicial officer for passing a “patently perverse” order before recommending disciplinary action.

“Alternatively, it may be considered whether his further retention in services is desirable,” Justice Rajan Gupta asserted, while referring the matter to the Chief Justice.

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The order had left Chand Singh and another petitioner Desa Singh in a bizarre situation, practically bereft of legal remedy, as an appeal against conviction can only be filed by a convict put to trial. The only remedy available to the petitioners, under the circumstances, was to invoke the High Court’s extraordinary writ jurisdiction.

Dubbing the case facts as “peculiar”, Justice Gupta ordered treating the matter as a criminal revision petition for preventing the petitioners from remaining remediless.

Taking cognisance of apparent contradictions in affidavits by Dharamkot DSP Gurpreet Singh and public prosecutor Anshuman Syal on factual aspects of the matter, Justice Gupta also directed the state counsel to seek instructions from the Punjab Home Secretary before filing an affidavit within a month.

The Additional Sessions Judge, in his order dated January 19, 2015, had held the petitioners guilty in a murder and destruction of evidence case under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC.

The Bench was told that the petitioners’ name did figure in the FIR registered at Dharamkot police station in Ranjit Singh’s murder case.

But the challan was presented only against three accused.

An application under Section 319 of the CrPC for summoning the petitioners to face trial as additional accused was never moved by the prosecution; and summoning orders were never passed. On the trial’s conclusion, both petitioners, along with the other accused, were convicted, DSP Gurpreet Singh claimed.

Public prosecutor Syal, on the other hand, submitted that the application under Section 319 was inadvertently moved by the prosecution, but later withdrawn.

Justice Gupta asserted that the petitioners were evidently never arraigned as accused in the challan, nor summoned as additional accused. An anomalous situation has been created in view of their conviction without subjecting them to trial.

The judicial officer convicted the petitioners without following the basic principles of criminal jurisprudence, it was held. At no stage were they given an opportunity to defend themselves. 

The order exhibited a callous attitude and insensitivity to the rights guaranteed to a citizen under Article 21 of the Constitution, Justice Gupta concluded.

Criminal jurisprudence overlooked: Court

  • On January 19, 2015, a Moga Additional Sessions Judge held five guilty in a murder and destruction of evidence case. Two of them, however, were never summoned for trial
  • The HC was told that while the name of the two figured in the FIR registered at Dharamkot police station, challan was presented only against three
  • The HC observed that the judicial officer convicted the petitioners without following the basic principles of criminal jurisprudence

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