Aapka Consultant Judgment Series- In this series, we are providing case analysis of Landmark Judgments of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India.
National Human Rights Commission v. State of Gujarat & Ors.
(2009) 6 SCC 342
JUDGES: Dr. Arijit Pasayat, P. Sathasivam and Aftab Alam
Date of Decision: 01-05-2009
The facts were that, by the order dated 26.03.2008 in this group of cases the Court has directed the Gujarat government to constitute a five-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to be headed by Mr. R.K. Raghavan, former Director General of CBI to undertake inquiry/investigation including further investigation in nine cases and to submit a report within a particular time. The SIT has submitted the report and the copies of it were sent to the Ld. Amicus Curiae and Ld. Counsel for the State who made following suggestions i.e., from the efforts of SIT, persons who were not earlier arrayed as accused have now been arrayed and also a large number of witnesses have been examined in each case. Therefore, SIT shall function till the completion of trial in each case and if any further inquiry/investigation is to be done, the same can be done under sec. 173(8) of Cr. PC.
The Supreme Court has taken following issues into consideration: –
- Fair trial.
- Modalities to ensure that the witnesses depose freely and in that context the need to protect the witnesses from interference by person(s) connected with the cases.
- Assistance to court by competent public prosecutors.
- Further role of SIT.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court has observed that the concept of fair trial has been read into Article 21 as an essential feature of right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under the Constitution of India. The concept of fair trial entails familiar triangulation of interests of the accused, the victim and the society; therefore, the courts have an overriding duty to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice by providing fair trial. Denial of fair trial is as much injustice to the accused as it is to the victim and the society. Fair trial would obviously mean a trial before an impartial judge, a fair prosecutor and in an atmosphere of judicial calm. Failure to accord fair hearing to the accused or even to the prosecution violates the minimum standard of due process of law.
It is also said that witnesses are considered to be the eyes and ears of justice. If the witness himself is incapacitated then the trial will get paralysed and it no longer can constitute a fair trial. Therefore, much importance has been given to protect the witnesses from outside interference as they are the key ingredient in a criminal trial and the testimonies of these witnesses establishes the guilt of the accused and provide justice to the complainant party. It is imperative for the justice to be done in a fair manner to protect the witnesses and the victims from the other persons who are connected with the case. The Court has opined that “no law has yet been enacted, not even a scheme has been framed by the Union of India or by the State Government for giving protection to the witnesses”. This has to be done in order to dispense a fair justice. Also, the role of victim in a criminal trial can never be lost sight of. He or she is an inseparable stakeholder in the adjudicating process.
Also, the court has emphasized the separation of prosecution agency from the investigation agency. It was observed that the Assistant Public Prosecutors should not be allowed to function under the control of the head of Police department. State Governments were directed to constitute a separate cadre for these Assistant Public Prosecutors by creating a separate prosecution department making it directly responsible to the respective state governments. This would act as an able assistance to the court by way of competent public prosecutors.
The Court disposes of the matter by giving certain directions to the Special Investigation Team regarding the inquiry/investigations to be done by him. SIT has to submit a report after every three months to the Hon’ble Supreme court. The Court holds the view that, for justice to be done, protection of witnesses and victims imperative and essential. Also both the accused and the victim should get fair trial which is imperative under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
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