A Delhi court has set aside the order of a man’s conviction and sentence in a molestation case, saying he had been denied his “valuable right to set up a probable defence in his favour” and he must be given a “fair chance to defend himself.”
Disposing off a criminal appeal, filed by convict Ravi Kumar against a magisterial court order, Additional Sessions Judge Lokesh Kumar Sharma said that in the absence of proper representation of the appellant during the trial before the metropolitan magistrate, it cannot be considered as a fair trial.
“It is the cardinal principle of natural justice as reiterated by superior courts in number of pronouncements that accused must be given a fair chance to defend himself and to prove his innocence by setting up a probable defence in his favour,” the court said.
Kumar had challenged the trial court order on his conviction and sentence in a molestation case, saying that none of the prosecution witnesses were cross-examined by him and he was granted only two opportunities to conclude his evidence.
“Perusal of the record reveals that the present appellant had remained unrepresented by a counsel throughout the trial and none of the prosecution witnesses including the formal witnesses, could be crossexamined and by any stretch of imagination it cannot be said that proper opportunities to cross examine the prosecution witnesses were afforded to him by the trial court,” the court said.
Allowing the appeal and setting aside the order, the judge directed the trial court to recall the prosecution witnesses for the purpose of their cross examination subject to their availability.
“Thereafter, metropolitan magistrate shall be at liberty to pronounce fresh judgement and consequent orders, if any,” it said.
Kumar, a Delhi resident, was convicted by the trial court on February 26, 2014 under section 509(uttering word or making gesture to insult the modesty of woman),354 (use of criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt).
He was sentenced to one year rigorous imprisonment and was also directed to pay a fine of Rs 7000.