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Supreme Court directs High Courts, States to file action taken report related to criminal trials

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The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Registrar Generals of High Courts and Chief Secretaries of various states to file an Action Taken Report in terms of the directions passed in Re: To Issue Certain Guidelines Regarding Inadequacies and Deficiencies in Criminal Trials.

A Bench of Justice L.N. Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai was informed by the Amicus Curiae that majority of the States have not complied with the directions passed by the Court in April, 2021.

On April 20, 2021, a three-Judge Bench led by the then CJI S.A. Bobde, had issued an order to implement the Draft Criminal Rules on Practice, 2021. The Bench comprising Justice L.N, Rao and Justice Ravindra Bhat, had directed the High Courts and State Governments to make necessary changes within six months and file an action taken report regarding the same.

Also Read: Supreme Court directs High Courts, States to file action taken report related to criminal trials

This Suo Motu case came into fruition when the Apex Court was hearing a criminal appeal involving the death of a political worker in 2016. During the pendency of this case, the court felt the need to address common deficiencies in criminal trials, noticing lack of uniformity across States on how criminal trials were conducted.

Taking suo motu cognisance, the court issued notice to all High Courts and State governments, asking for submissions on the matter, while also appointing three Amici Curiae- Senior Advocates Sidharth Luthra and R Basanth, and Advocate K. Parameshwar. 

The court, in collaboration with various stakeholders, came up with the Draft Criminal Rules on Practice, 2021.

Also Read: We are already late in providing requisite impetus to ADR, says Justice AM Khanwilkar

Some of the important rules in Draft Criminal Rules on Practice, 2021 include:

• If a death occurs in police custody or due to police action, photos/videos must be taken for the post-mortem and produced during trial.

• The post mortem report shall contain a sketch of the human body.

• A site plan with specified details should be produced.

• Evidence from witnesses should be recorded in typed format, where possible and translated to English.

• The uniform method of numbering witnesses, accused and pieces of evidence in the Rules must be followed. Statements outside of court must also be extracted for reference in the record when brought up in the trial.

• All judgments should follow the prescribed uniform format, written in numbered paragraphs. It must contain the points for determination, the decision and the reasons for the decision.

• Bail applications should be ideally disposed of in 3 to 7 days.

• Advocates who advise the investigating officer should be separate from the public prosecutor.–

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