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Supreme Court instructs Registry to call for soft copies of trial court records in criminal appeals if leave granted in appeals

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The Supreme Court said the soft copies of trial court records in all criminal appeals that have been admitted, should be called by the registry in appeals where leave has been granted. 

A bench comprising of Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan said that that registry should do this , without waiting for the explicit orders to expedite the final disposal of such criminal appeals.

The Court said that in their opinion, whenever leave is granted in an appeal challenging the order(s) of conviction or order(s) of acquittal, there has to be a practice of immediately calling for the soft copies of the record of the High Court and the Trial Court; to upload the same on the system; and to provide soft copies thereof to the learned counsel representing the parties.

It, therefore, asked the registry to obtain appropriate administrative directions from the Chief Justice of India in this regard.

The Court said that they found

We find that in a large number of appeals unless there is an order of the Court to that effect, the record is not being called for and, therefore, hearing of the appeals get delayed.

TheCourt added that it will be appropriate if the Registrar (Judicial) seeks appropriate administrative directions from Hon’ble the Chief Justice of India so that the Registry will call for the soft copies of the record of the High Court and the Trial Court immediately after leave is granted in such cases.

The observations came in a bail hearing in which the Court was forced to adjourn the case in the absence of trial court records. The criminal appeal had been admitted in August 2023.

The Court instructed the registry to immediately call for soft copies of the records so the hearing could proceed on the next date, April 3.

The Supreme Court last year had called for amendments to allow the production of electronic copies of trial court records in criminal appeals rather than having them produced in physical form.

The Apex Court had stated that the move would facilitate a quicker availability of trial court records with the apex court and would also be more environmental friendly.

Recently, the apex court had directed its Registry to refrain from referring to trial courts as ‘lower courts’ in any communication or reference.

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