Saturday, February 26, 2011

No counsel, no decision in criminal cases: SC

New Delhi: Courts cannot decide a criminal case against an accused in the absence of his lawyer, the Supreme Court ruled to weed out exparte decisions in offences under penal laws. If the lawyer of the accused absents himself repeatedly, then the court will appoint an amicus curiae to proceed with the hearing on the criminal case, said a Bench comprising Justices Markandey Katju and Gyna Sudha Misra. 
   “In the absence of a counsel, for whatever reason, the case should not be decided forthwith against the accused but in such a situation the court should appoint a counsel who is practising on the criminal side as amicus curiae and decide the case after fixing another date and hearing him,” it said.
   The counsel, who absented from hearing, will not be allowed to argue further on behalf of the accused if he failed to give sufficient ground for his absence, the Bench said.
   “But, in such a situation, it is open to the accused to either engage another counsel or the court may proceed with the hearing of the case by the counsel appointed as amicus curiae,” the court said.
   “If a criminal case (whether a trial or appeal or revision) is decided against an accused in the absence of a counsel, there will be violation of Article 21 (which guarantees right to life) of the Constitution,” it said.

No comments:

Post a Comment