Draft rules on criminal practice: Supreme Court directs HCs to submit suggestions in 2 weeks

The Supreme Court on Tuesday has directed the High Courts to submit their suggestion within two weeks on adoption of draft rules framed on criminal practice while hearing its suo motu case on inadequacies and deficiencies in the process of criminal trials. (In Re: To Issue Certain Guidelines Regarding Inadequacies and Deficiencies In Criminal Trials) 

During the hearing today, Senior Advocates Siddharth Luthra and R. Basant, who were appointed Amicus Curiaes, submitted draft rules on criminal practice and informed the Court that they have only received responses from Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Telangana High Court and the rest 20 High Courts have chosen not to respond even after consultations were held.

Taking suo motu cognizance in respect of inadequacies and deficiencies in criminal trials, back in 2017, the bench of Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice L. Nageswara Rao had issued notices to the Registrar Generals 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 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.

The matter was listed today before the three-judge bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice Nageswara Rao and Justice Vineet Saran. CJI Bobde said the high courts need to make a statement on adopting the draft rules for their high courts.

Amicus Curiae Senior Advocate Siddharth 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 has 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 said, 

"W 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 amicus curiae, Senior Advocate R. Basant, Senior Advocate Siddharth 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, Siddharth 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.