Explained :The Draft Criminal Rules On Practice, 2021 for Speedy Trial in Indian Courts

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The Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2021: The confusion created by multiple versions of statements and depositions in the projection of either side is compelling us to reiterate the necessity of referring to guidelines regarding Inadequacies and Deficiencies in Criminal Trials.

New Delhi (Association for Judicial Reforms India): The Supreme Court of India on August 24, 2021 in case titled Lala @ Anurag Prakash Aasre Vs The State of Maharashtra once gain reminded all the High Courts of India for implementing of the Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2021.

The Judgement in above mentioned case in para says, “9.In the above context, we may benefit by referring to the Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2021 notified on   this   Court’s   directions   in   Suo   Moto   Writ   (Crl.) No.1/2017   ‘In   Re:   To   Issue   Guidelines   Regarding Inadequacies and Deficiencies in Criminal Trials’. The confusion created by multiple versions of statements and depositions in the projection of either side is compelling us to reiterate the necessity of referring to   these   Guidelines.   This   Court’s   order   dated 20.04.2021 reflects the precise concerns which we have faced in appreciating the evidence presented, “The Court noticed common deficiencies which occur in course of criminal trials...These related,   amongst   others,   to   the   manner   in which   documents   (i.e.   list   of   witnesses, list of exhibits, list of material objects) referred to are presented and exhibited in the   judgment,   and   the   lack   of   uniform practices in regard to preparation of injury reports,   deposition   of   witnesses, translation   of   statements,   numbering   and nomenclature   of   witnesses,   labeling   of material objects, etc. These very often lead to   asymmetries   and   hamper   appreciation   of evidence, which in turn has a tendency of prolonging   proceedings,   especially   at   the appellate stages.”

The Draft Rules also dictate the manner in which depositions   must   be   translated.   The   practice   of translating any relevant document must not differ so significantly across forums and submissions by parties to   cast   severe   aspersions   on   evidence,   which   may otherwise   be   not   warranted.   Idiosyncrasies   of colloquial terms, used for naming an accused, could well be the difference between conviction and acquittal of an accused.”

It is mention worthy that the apex court of India in case titled Re: To Issue Certain Guidelines Regarding Inadequacies and Deficiencies in Criminal Trials Vs the State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors on April 20, 2021 directed all high Courts of India to implement the Draft Criminal Rules on Practice, 2021 for speedy trial of criminal cases.

Following is the Draft Criminal Rules on Practice, 2021 directed by the Supreme Court of India;

DRAFT CRIMINAL RULES ON PRACTICE, 2021

CHAPTER I.  

 INVESTIGATION  

1. BODY SKETCH TO ACCOMPANY MEDICO LEGAL CERTIFICATE, POST MORTEM REPORT AND INQUEST REPORT:

Every Medico Legal Certificate, Post Mortem Report shall contain a printed format of the human body on its reverse and injuries, if any, shall be indicated on such sketch.

Explanation: The printed format of the human body shall contain both a frontal and rear view of the human body as provided in ANNEXURE – A

2. PHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEO GRAPHS OF POST MORTEM IN CERTAIN CASES

i. In   case   of   death   of   a   person   in   police   action   [under   Section   46   Criminal Procedure   Code,   1973(“Cr.PC”)   or   Sections   129   to   131   Cr.PC]   or   death while in police custody, the magistrate or the Investigating Officer as the case may be, shall inform the hospital or doctor in charge to arrange for photographs or videography for conducting the post-mortem examination of the deceased. The photographs of the deceased shall also be arranged to be taken in all cases.

ii. Such photograph and video graphs shall be taken either by arranging a police photographer or a nominated photographer of the State Government, and where neither of the above are available, an independent or private photographer shall be engaged.

iii. Such photographs   or   video   graphs   shall   be   seized   under   a panchnama or seizure   memo  and   all   steps   taken   to   ensure   proper   proof   of   such photographs/video graphs during Trial.

iv. The Investigating Officer shall ensure that such photographs and videographs, if   taken   electronically,   are   seized   under   a  panchnama  or   seizure   memo   and steps   are   taken   to   preserve   the   original,   and   ensure   that   certificate   under Section   65B  Indian   Evidence  Act,   1872   is  obtained   and   taken   to   be   proved during trial.

v. The   video   or   photographs   shall   be   stored   on   a   separate   memory   card, accompanied by a duly certified certificate under Section 65B Indian Evidence Act, 1872.

vi. Where  postmortems are  recorded  in electronic  form, the  file  containing  the post-mortem   proceedings,   duly   certified,   should   be   placed   with   the   memory card as an attachment unless individual memory cards are not capable of being produced before Court.

3. SCENE MAHAZAR/ SPOT PANCHANAMA

i. A site plan of the place of occurrence of an incident shall be appended by the Investigating Officer to the scene mahazar or spot panchnama.

ii. The site plan shall be prepared by the Investigating Officer by hand, and shall disclose

a. the place of occurrence,

b. the place where the body (or bodies) was / were found,

c. the place where material exhibits and/or weapons,

d. blood stains and/or body fluids had fallen,

e. the place where bullet shells, if any, were found or have caused impact,

f. the source of light, if any and

g. adjoining   natural   and   man-made   structures   or   features   such   as   walls, pits, fences, trees/bushes, if any and

h. elevation of structures and their location.

iii. The preparation of this sketch by the Investigating Officer shall be followed by

a   scaled   site   plan   prepared   by   police   draftsman,   if   available,   or   such   other

authorized or nominated draftsman by the State Government, who shall prepare

the scaled site plan after visiting the spot.

iv. The   relevant   details   in   the mahazar or panchnama shall   be   marked   and correlated in the said site plan.

4. SUPPLY OF DOCUMENTS UNDER SECTIONS 173, 207 AND 208 CR.PC

i. Every Accused   shall   be   supplied   with   statements  of   witness   recorded   under Sections   161   and   164   Cr.PC   and   a   list   of   documents,   material   objects   and exhibits   seized   during   investigation   and   relied   upon   by   the   Investigating Officer (I.O) in accordance with Sections 207 and 208, Cr. PC. Explanation: The list of statements, documents, material objects and exhibits shall specify statements, documents, material objects and exhibits that are not relied upon by the Investigating Officer.

Chapter II:    CHARGE  

5. The order framing charge shall be accompanied by a formal charge in Form 32, Schedule   II,   Cr.PC.   to   be   prepared   personally   by   the   Presiding   Officer   after complete and total application of mind.

CHAPTER III: TRIAL  

6. RECORDING OF EVIDENCE: PROCEDURE

i. The depositions of witnesses shall be recorded, in typed format, if possible. The   record   of   evidence   shall   be   prepared   on   computers,   if   available,   in   the Court on the dictation of the Presiding Officer. Provided that in case the language of deposition is to be recorded in a language other   than   English   or   the   language   of   the   State,   the   Presiding   Officer   shall simultaneously translate the deposition either himself or through a competent translator into English.

ii. The deposition shall be recorded in the language of the witness and in English when translated as provided in Clause 6 (i).

iii. The depositions shall without exception be read over by the Presiding officer in Court. Hard copy of the testimony so recorded duly signed to be a true copy by the Presiding Officer/court officer shall be made available free of cost against receipt to the accused or an advocate representing the accused, to the witness and the prosecutor on the date of recording.

iv. A translator shall be made available in each Court and Presiding Officers shall be trained in the local languages, on the request of the Presiding Officer.

v. The Presiding Officers shall not record evidence in more than one case at the same time.

7. RECORDING OF EVIDENCE: FORMAT OF WITNESSES

i. The   deposition   of   each   witness   shall   be   recorded   dividing   it   into   separate paragraphs assigning paragraph numbers.

ii. Prosecution   witnesses   shall   be   numbered   as   PW-1,   PW-2   etc, in   seriatim. Similarly,   defence   witnesses   shall   be   numbered   as   DW-1,   DW-2,   etc., in seriatim.   The   Court   witnesses   shall   be   numbered   as   CW-1,   CW-2,   etc,   in seriatim.

iii. The record of depositions shall indicate the date of the chief examination, the cross examination and re-examination.

iv. The Presiding   Officers shall   wherever   necessary   record the   deposition   in question and answer format.

v. Objections by either the prosecution or the defence counsel shall be taken note of and reflected in the evidence and decided immediately, in accordance with law, or, at the discretion of the learned Judge, at the end of the deposition of the witness in question.

vi. The name and number of the witness shall be clearly stated on any subsequent date, if the evidence is not concluded on the date on which it begins.

8. EXHIBITING OF MATERIAL OBJECTS AND EVIDENCE

i. Prosecution   exhibits   shall   be   marked   as   Exhibit   P-1,   P-2   etc  in   seriatim. Similarly,   defence   Exhibits   shall   be   marked   as   Exhibit   D-1,   D-2,   etc  in seriatim.   The   Court   exhibit   shall   be   marked   as   Exhibit   C-1,   C-2,   etc  in seriatim.

ii. To easily locate the witness through whom the document was first introduced in evidence, the exhibit number shall further show the witness number of such witness after the Exhibit number. If an exhibit is marked without proper proof, the same shall be indicated by showing in brackets (subject to proof).   Explanation:   If Prosecution   witness   no.   1   (PW1)   introduces   a   document   in evidence, that document shall be marked as Exhibit P-1/PW1. If proper proof is   not   offered   for   that   document   at   the   time   when   it   is   marked,   it   shall   be marked   as   Exhibit   P-1/PW1   (subject   to   proof).   The   Second   document introduced by PW1 will be Exhibit P-2/PW1. 

iii. The Material objects shall be marked in seriatim as MO-1, MO-2 etc.

9. SUBSEQUENT REFERENCES TO ACCUSED, WITNESS, EXHIBITS AND MATERIAL OBJECTS

i. After framing of charges, the accused shall be referred to only by their ranks in the array of accused in the charge and not by their names or other references except at the stage of identification by the witness.

ii. After   recording   the   deposition   of   witnesses,   marking   of   the   exhibits   and material objects, while recording deposition of other witnesses, the witnesses, exhibits and material objects shall be referred by their numbers and not by names or other references.

iii. Where witness cited in the complaint or police report are not examined, they shall be referred to by their names and the numbers allotted to them in the complaint or police report.

10. REFERENCES TO STATEMENTS UNDER SECTION 161 AND 164 CRPC:

i. During   cross   examination,   the   relevant   portion   of   the   statements   recorded under Section 161 Cr.PC used for contradicting the respective witness shall be extracted.   If   it   is   not   possible   to   extract   the   relevant   part   as   aforesaid,   the Presiding Officer, in his discretion, shall indicate specifically the opening and closing words of such relevant portion, while recording the deposition, through distinct marking.

ii. In such cases, where the relevant portion is not extracted, the portions only shall be distinctly marked as prosecution or defence exhibit as the case may be, so that other inadmissible portions of the evidence are not part of the record.

iii. In cases, where the relevant portion is not extracted, the admissible portion shall be distinctly marked as prosecution or defence exhibit as the case may be.

iv. The aforesaid rule applicable to recording of the statements under Section 161 shall mutatis mutandis apply to statements recorded under Section 164 of the Cr.PC, whenever such portions of prior statements of living persons are used for contradiction/corroboration.

v. Omnibus marking of the entire statement under S. 161 and 164 Cr.PC shall not be done.

11. MARKING OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENTS

The Presiding Officers shall ensure that only admissible portion of Section 8 or Section   27   Indian   Evidence Act,   1872   is   marked   and   such   portion   alone   is extracted on a separate sheet and marked and given an exhibit number.

CHAPTER IV: THE JUDGMENT  

12. Every judgement shall contain the following

i. Start with a preface showing the names of parties as per FORM A to the Rules.

ii. A tabular statement as per FORM B to the Rules.

iii. An appendix giving the list of prosecution witnesses, defence witnesses, Court   witnesses,   Prosecution   Exhibits,   Defence   Exhibits   and   Court Exhibits and Material Objects as per FORM C to the Rules.

13. In compliance with Section 354 and 355 Cr.PC, in all cases, the judgments shall contain:

i. the point or points for determination,

ii. the decision thereon, and

iii. the reasons for the decision

14.In case of conviction, the judgment shall separately indicate the offence involved and the sentence awarded. In case there are multiple accused, each of them shall be dealt with separately. In case of acquittal and if the accused is in confinement, a direction   shall   be   given   to   set   the   accused   at   liberty,   unless   such   accused   is   in custody in any other case.

15.In   the   judgment   the   accused,   witnesses,   exhibits   and   material   objects   shall   be referred   to   by   their   nomenclature   or   number   and   not   only   by   their   names   or otherwise. Wherever, there is a need to refer to the accused or witnesses by their name, the number shall be indicated within brackets.

16.The judgment shall be written in paragraphs and each paragraph shall be numbered in seriatim. The Presiding Officers, may, in their discretion, organize the judgment into different sections.

CHAPTER V: MISCELLANEOUS  

17. BAIL

i. The application for bail in non-bailable cases must ordinarily be disposed off within a period of 3 to 7 days from the date of first hearing. If the application is not disposed off within such period, the Presiding Officer shall furnish reasons thereof in the order itself. Copy of the order and the reply to the bail application or status report (by the police or prosecution) if any, shall be furnished to the accused and to the accused on the date of pronouncement of the order itself.

ii. The Presiding Officer may, in an appropriate case in its discretion insist on a statement to be filed by the prosecutor in charge of the case.

18.SEPARATION OF PROSECUTORS AND INVESTIGATORS

The   State   Governments   shall   appoint   advocates,   other   than   Public   Prosecutors,   to advise the Investigating Officer during investigation.

19. DIRECTIONS FOR EXPEDITIOUS TRIAL

i. In   every   enquiry   or   trial,   the   proceedings   shall   be   held   as   expeditiously   as possible, and, in particular, when the examination of witnesses has once begun, he   same   shall   be   continued   from   day   to   day   until   all   the   witnesses   in attendance have been examined, unless the court finds the adjournment of the same   beyond   the   following   day   to   be   necessary   for   reasons   to   be   recorded. (Section   309   (1)   Cr.PC.).   For   this   purpose,   at   the   commencement,   and immediately after framing charge, the court shall hold a scheduling hearing, to ascertain and fix consecutive dates for recording of evidence, regard being had to whether the witnesses are material, or eyewitnesses, or formal witnesses or are experts. The court then shall draw up a schedule indicating the consecutive dates, when witnesses would be examined; it is open to schedule recording of a set of witness’ depositions on one date, and on the next date, other sets, and so on. The court shall also, before commencement of trial, ascertain if the parties wish to carry out admission of any document under Section 294, and permit them to do so, after which such consecutive dates for trial shall be fixed.

ii. After the commencement of the trial, if the court finds it necessary or advisable to postpone the commencement of, or adjourn, any inquiry or trial, it may, from time to time, for reasons to be recorded postpone or adjourn the same on such terms as it thinks fit, for such time as it considers reasonable. If witnesses are in   attendance   no   adjournment   or   postponement   shall   be   granted,   without examining them, except for special reasons to be recorded, in writing.  (Section 309 (2) Cr.PC.).

iii. Sessions cases may be given precedence over all other work and no other work should   be   taken   up   on   session’s   days   until   the   sessions   work   for   the   day   is completed.  A Sessions case once posted should not be postponed unless that is unavoidable, and once the trial has begun, it should proceed continuously from day today till it is completed. If for any reason, a case has to be adjourned or postponed, intimation should be given forthwith to both sides and immediate steps be taken to stop the witnesses and secure their presence on the adjourned date.
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