Judges suggest speedy trial ways, lawyers boycott

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.

HC quashes order giving divorce to husband exparte

Observing that a court should use its discretion, the Bombay High Court has set aside an order of a civil judge in Baramati, who refused to condone the delay made by a woman in an application urging to dismiss a divorce decree granted to her husband ex-parte.

Saying that this was a fit case where the concerned judge should have deemed proper to exercise his jurisdiction, Justice Roshan Dalvi recently quashed the order of Baramati Civil Judge passed on July 9, 2004, refusing to condone the delay made by the woman in making an application.

The High Court judge observed that the concerned judge ought to have heard her application for setting aside the decree of divorce on merits. “The delay if any, which has been refused to be condoned is seen to be deserving of condonation and hence condoned”, Justice Dalvi said.

The High Court asked the concerned judge to expeditiously hear the plea of the wife for setting aside the decree of divorce dated December 31, 2001, on merits.

The woman, Snhel alias Nandini Ghante, pleaded that she was not served at her last known residence. She said that this fact had been admitted by the respondent husband in his cross-examination, which has been stated in her application.

“Once it is seen that the petition was not served at the last known address of the petitioner, the divorce decree would be required to be reconsidered,” Justice Dalvi observed.

The judge noted that the divorce decree was passed on December 31, 2001. Husband, Dattatraya Ghante, has since remarried. The right of wife to claim maintenance may yet be not affected, even despite the remarriage of the husband.

“Such merits of the case are most material to bear in mind by a court whilst considering the right of a party in having the matter re-agitated on the ground of want of service and in considering the validity of decree of divorce in the first place,” Justice Dalvi remarked.

The court noted that the divorce decree having been passed was served upon the woman on June 14, 2002. Hence she obtained the knowledge of the decree from that date. It is her case that she got a mental shock and was hospitalised from June 15, 2002 to June 27, 2002. However, she had not produced any hospital records.

 

PTI