Amid lawyers refusing to represent the accused in the gang rape-cum-murder case of 23-year-old paramedic, two women judges have come out with suggestions for effective fast-tracking of the trial.
While Justice Gyan Sudha Misra, a sitting Supreme Court judge, suggested amendments to the Evidence Act to avoid recording of evidence at multiple stages to “cut-short” the whole process of trial, former Delhi High Court judge, Justice Usha Mehra opined that the trial judge should ensure service of lawyers to accused from the very outset of the trial.
According to Justice Misra, “I feel in such cases of heinous crimes against women, it should be one-to-one between accused and victim as cases of these natures ultimately hinge on evidence collected by police.”
She also added, “Evidence recorded by the police from the accused and the victim’s side should be recorded before a judicial officer. Why should the statement of prosecution and defence witnesses be recorded at multiple stages? Let us bring changes to the Indian Evidence Act.”
“If the evidence led by the accused and the victim is recorded in front of a judicial officer, why should there be need for a lawyer to record evidence the second time in the court, as it is done today.
Justice Misra added, “The thing left for courts would be only cross-examination and arguments and that is how fast track courts are also going to be fast. Recording of evidence a second time in the court gives rise to manipulations, witnesses turning hostile and in many cases killing of star witnesses”
Justice Mehra, the head of government-appointed one member commission to probe the gangrape case, however, said earlier also, in many cases, the lawyers had refused to represent the accused and they cannot be forced to appear on their behalf but the trial judge has the discretion to provide lawyers to accused either from the legal aid or appoint amicus curiae to defend them.