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A Delhi court has pulled up a magistrate for convicting a man without framing charges in a theft case, saying the officer has followed a procedure which was “unknown to law”. 
arrest, while disposing of the criminal appeal filed by
Tamil Nadu resident Arumugam challenging his five-month jail term, set aside the judgement saying the metropolitan magistrate committed “serious lapses”.

The court remanded back the case to the magistrate with a direction “to proceed in accordance with law”.

“Clearly, there have been serious lapses committed by the magistrate. He has followed a procedure which is unknown to law. He has proceeded to convict the appellant (Arumugam) without considering or framing a formal charge,” the judge said.

Arumugam was convicted by the magistrate on October 30 for the offence under section 379 (theft) of
IPC after he pleaded guilty and was awarded five months jail term.

He filed an appeal against the sentence awarded by the magistrate and prayed to be released from custody on period already undergone in jail.

district judge noted that though the magistrate has referred to the voluntary plea of guilt moved by Arumugam he failed to record even a formal statement in this regard.

Directing Arumugam to appear before the court concerned, the judge said, “One hopes such breaches of prescribed procedures will not be indulged in by the metropolitan magistrate in future.”

“In view of the above, the impugned order is wholly illegal and consequently deserves to be set aside,” the judge said.

During the hearings on the appeal, the judge noted, “One cannot fail to notice that the trial court record does not indicate any charge to have been formally framed before the plea of Arumugam was recorded.”

The judge then immediately returned the file to the magistrate seeking a reply within one hour and asking whether charge was framed against the appellant or not and whether statement was recorded.

To this the magistrate replied in an hour saying, “No separate charge was framed as accused had moved an application for pleading guilty for offences under which he was named in a charge sheet by the investigating officer.”

The magistrate had also added in his reply, “It seems that statement of accused could not be signed due to heavy work load on that day and the fact of recording the statement of accused was recorded in the order sheet.

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