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Pre-trial notices to complainants cause unwanted delays: Delhi HC

Feb 09, 2024 05:18 AM IST

The Centre submitted that CrPC provided for supplying a copy of the police report and other documents to the accused free of cost

The Delhi high court has said that mandating criminal courts to issue notice to the complainant at every stage of the pre-trial and trial in proceedings would result in undesirable delays.

Gavel and law books (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Gavel and law books (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The court was of the view that the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) did not mandate criminal courts to issue notice to the complainant at pre-trial stage, adding that the direction, if accepted, would act as a treatment worse than the disease.

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“There is no mandate in the statute (CrPC) obliging the Criminal Court to issue notice to the complainant/victim at pre-trial stage. We are unable to accept the suggestion of the Petitioner that it should be made mandatory for the Criminal Court to issue a notice to the complainant/victim at every stage of the pre-trial and trial in criminal proceedings,” a bench led by acting chief justice Manmohan said in the January 5 order, while disposing of the plea seeking to direct the court to issue notice to the complainants at the time of taking cognisance of the charge sheet.

The court, in the order that was uploaded on Wednesday, said, “In the opinion of this Court, such a direction is likely to result in avoidable and undesirable delays in trials and is likely to work against the objective of expeditious trials. The suggestion of the Petitioner if accepted would act as ‘a treatment worse than the disease.”

The court was considering a plea filed by advocate Vivek Kumar Gaurav, wherein he sought directions for police stations or district courts to supply a copy of the charge sheet or final report to the victim.

The lawyer contended that the notice and the charge sheet would enable the complainant to exercise the right to be heard and participate in pre-trial criminal proceedings. He also referred to the Supreme Court’s judgement in Jageet Singh v Ashish Mishra (2022), that recognises the victim’s right to be heard and participate in criminal proceedings.

The lawyer also argued that though the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 provided for supplying a copy of the charge sheet to the victim free of cost, there was no similar provision in CrPC, thereby violative of the fundamental right to equality (Article 14 of the Constitution).

He also argued that the complainant was not even informed about the date or time regarding initiation of proceedings or time of filing charge sheet.

The Centre, appearing through standing counsel Anurag Ahluwalia, submitted that CrPC provided for supplying a copy of the police report and other documents to the accused free of cost. He said that though the legislature had amended CrPC in 2008 and had introduced the definition of victim, the amendment did not mandate for providing the copy of the police report and other documents to the complainant free of cost.

The counsel further contended that mandatory direction for prior supply of documents to the victim would hinder the trial.

The high court bench, also comprising justice Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora, observed that the amendments made in the statute provided sufficient rights to the aggrieved person to effectively participate in pre-trial and trial proceedings.

“Thus, in view of the judgment of the Supreme Court in Jagjeet Singh v Ashish Mishra (supra) and the amendments made to CrPC by the 2008 Amendment Act, there are sufficient rights given to the victim/complainant to effectively participate in pre-trial and trial proceedings if he/she so elects,” the court noted.

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