Saturday, December 9, 2023

All High Courts to adopt Draft Rules on criminal practice in 6 months, says Supreme Court

The apex court has pronounced its order on a suo motu move initiated by it and titled ‘Re: To Issue Certain Guidelines Regarding Inadequacies and Deficiencies In Criminal Trials.’

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The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justices L. Nageswara Rao and S. Ravindra Bhat has directed that all high courts of the country will have to take expeditious steps to incorporate the Draft Rules 2021 as part of rules governing criminal trials and ensure that the existing rules, certifications, orders and practice directions are suitably modified and promulgated wherever necessary in official gazettes within six months from today.”

The apex court has pronounced its order on a suo motu move initiated by it and titled ‘Re: To Issue Certain Guidelines Regarding Inadequacies and Deficiencies In Criminal Trials.’

Earlier the court had directed the high courts to submit their suggestions on adoption of the Draft Rules framed on criminal practice.

Senior Advocates Sidharth Luthra, K. Parmeshwar and R. Basant, who were appointed amici curiae, submitted the draft rules on criminal practice and informed the court that they have only received responses from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana High Courts. The rest 20 high courts have chosen not to respond, even after consultations were held.

Back in 2017, taking suo motu cognizance in respect of inadequacies and deficiencies in criminal trials, the then bench of Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice L. Nageswara Rao had issued notices to the Registrars General of all the high courts and the chief secretaries/the administrators and the Advocates General/Senior Standing Counsel of all the States/Union Territories, so that a general consensus can be arrived at on the need to amend the relevant Rules of Practice/ Criminal Manuals to bring about uniform best practices across the country.

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Earlier, CJI Bobde had said that the high courts need to make a statement on adopting the draft rules for their high courts. Amicus Curiae Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra pointed out that these rules should be the substratum of all rules dealing with criminal trials. “We also have to see what guidelines are to be followed to virtual hearing and trials dealing with such criminal trial hearing,” he said.

The Supreme Court had noted that the rules have been drafted, and these rules are not followed in all high courts. It is needed to prepare draft rules which can be incorporated into existing rules by the high courts.

“Accordingly, we issued notice to Registrar General of the high courts and chief secretary of all states so that uniform consensus can be there to amend the criminal rules and practice manual,”

-said the Apex Court.

The Court had said:

“We consider it appropriate having regard to urgency of change, the high courts need to submit a substantive reply within two weeks dealing with all aspects. In case they cannot do so, the registrar general of the High Courts to be remain present with appropriate instructions.“

Earlier, a report was compiled by three amicui curiae – Senior Advocate R. Basant, Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra and Advocate K. Parmeshwar – appointed by the Supreme Court to assist the Court in redressing the inadequacies and deficiencies inherent in the Indian Criminal Justice System. The report outlines draft “Rules of Criminal Practice” as a reformative measure.

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On the previous occasion, Luthra stated that the Draft Rules which have been submitted to this Court were prepared after issuing notice to all the High Courts and hearing such High Courts who appeared. The bench said it would hear the High Courts before giving any directions about framing of any such Rules.

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