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Fair Trial In Criminal Justice System

The primary object of criminal procedure is to ensure a fair trial to every person accused of any crime. The notion of a fair trial has close link with the basic and universally accepted human right1. It may however be noted that the fairness of a criminal trial should not be measured in absolute term.

The question whether a criminal trial is fair or not will have to be examined in relation to the gravity of the accusation, the time and resources which the society can reasonably afford to spend, the quality of the available resources, the prevailing social values etc. In this it is attempted to give an overview of the common attributes of a fair criminal trial.

The following features of fair trial are as follows
  1. Adversary system
  2. Independent, impartial and competent judge
  3. Venue of the trial
  4. Presumption of innocence
  5. Right of accused person
  6. Expeditious trail

Adversary System
Our country adopts adversary system of criminal trial. According to this any dispute as to the criminal responsibility of a person is to be resolved by the criminal court after giving fair and adequate opportunity to the person before the court of their respective cases. It enables an Impartial and competent court to have proper perspective of the case and it is a better device to discover the truth in a fair manner. In such, state represent the victim and the state starts a trial against the accused.

This system recognized equal right and opportunity to both the parties. Further, the code requires the criminal court to play a more active and positive role than that of mere referee in the combat between the prosecutor-state and the accused person. The charge against the accused is to be framed not by the prosecution but by the court after considering the circumstance of the case and prosecutor cannot withdraw from the case without the consent of the court.

Himanshu Vs. State of MP 2 case apex court imagined that under free trial the Code isn't granted to the gatherings and court has motivations to accept that organization or examiner isn't acting in the imperative way and the court can practice its power under section 311 and 165 of the Code of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 to bring in for the material witness and acquire the important reports in order to serve the reason for equity.

Independent, impartial and competent Judge:
  1. Separation of judiciary from the Executive:
    To guarantee autonomous working of legal executive in criminal matters, the Code has achieved the detachment of the legal executive from the judiciary by requiring the arrangement of Judicial Magistrates and bringing them all under the control of High Court in each State, which is explicitly set down under the arrangements of Section 6 to 19 of Cr.P.C. Due to the partition, no judicial officer would be connected with any person connected with the prosecution. In criminal trial, as the State is arraigning party it is of uncommon importance and significance that the legal executive is liberated of all doubt of leader impact or control
  2. Court to be open:
    According to section 327 the place where the court is held shall be open court for which the general public may have access3. Public trial in open court is an amazing instrument for making certainty of public in reasonableness, objectivity and fair-mindedness of the organization of criminal equity.
  3. Judge or Magistrate not to be personally interested in the case:
According to section 479 of the code
  1. No judge or Magistrate shall expect with permission of the higher court try or commit for trail any case to or in which he is a party or personally interested
  2. No judge or Magistrate shall hear an appeal from any judgement or order passed or made by himself.
  3. Transfer of case to secure impartial trial- According to section 190 (1) c, a magistrate has power to take cognizance of an offence may do upon his own knowledge about the commission of any such offence. However, in such case the accused must be told before any evidence is taken that he is entitled to have the case tired aby another magistrate {sec. 191].

Secondly, whenever it is made to appear to the High court that a fair and impartial inquiry or trial cannot be held in any criminal court subordinate to it may subject to condition laid down in section 407, order that (I) any offence be inquired into or tired by any other competent court or

(ii) that any particular case or class of case be transferred from a criminal court subordinate to its authority to any other criminal court. Similarly, the power of transfer of cause given to the Supreme court and the session court by section 406 and 408.

In Ambazhagan Vs. Superintendent of police
4, Supreme court held that party interested in sec 406(2) would encompass political opponents of the accused saying they are the watch dogs of the govt. in power. The petitioner wanted the criminal case filed against the Chief Minister of the state to be transferred out of the state. The Supreme court ordered saying that �The petitioner has raised many justifiable and reasonable apprehensions of miscarriage of justice would require our interference in exercise of power under sec.406 CrPC.

Venue of the trial
The provision regarding venue of inquiry or trial are contained in section 177-189. If the place of trial is highly inconvenient to the accused person and causes various impediments in preparation of his defence, the trial at such a place cannot be considered as trial 5.

Presumption of innocence
Every criminal trial began with presumption of innocence in favour of the accused, and the provision of the code are so framed that a criminal trial should begin with and be throughout governed by the essential presumption. However, it has been observed that the burden of proving the guilty of the accused is upon the prosecution and unless it relieves itself of that burden, the court cannot record a finding of the guilty of accused 6.

In State of UP Vs. Naresh and ors7 case supreme court had observed that the standard of assumption of innocence unless guilty is demonstrated structures of criminal law in India.

Right of accused person
A fair trial implies that it should be fair both to the prosecution as well as well as the accused person. Therefore, the following right in favour of the accused have been recognised by the code with a view to make trial fair to the accused person.
  1. Right to know of the accusation:
    In order to enable the accused to make preparation for his defence, it is essential that he be informed of the accusation against him. When an accused person is brought before the court for trial the particulars of the offence of which he is accused shall be stated to him. [Ss.228,240,246,25]. In case of serious offence, the court is required to frame in writing a formal charge and then to read and explain the charge to the accused
  2. Right of accused to be tried in his presence:
    The presence of the accused throughout the trial would enable him to understand properly the case as it is unfolded in the court. The presence can be implied from the provision which allow the court to dispense with the personal attendance of the accused under certain circumstances [sec.205,273]. Section 317 however makes an exception and empower the court dispense the attendance of the accused person. At any stage of the inquiry or trial, if the court is satisfied the attendance of the accused person before it is not necessary and is represented by pleader, dispense then court may proceed with such inquiry or trial in his absence.
  3. Evidence to be taken in presence of accused:
    According to section 273 all evidence taken in course of the trial or other proceeding shall be taken in the presence of the accused or when his personal attendance is dispensed with in the presence of his pleader. However, according to section 279, any evidence is given in any language not understood by the accused and he is present in court in person it shall be interpreted in language understood by him. If any accused is of unsound mind and thus unable to understand the proceeding in such case special provision have been made in section 328-339 to deal with such situation.
  4. Right to cross-examine prosecution witness:
    It is important right for the purpose of defence. A criminal trial which denies the accused person the right to cross-examine prosecution witness is based on weak foundation, and cannot be considered as a fair trial 6.

In Badri Vs. state of Rajasthan 8 case it was held by the apex court that the prosecution witness was not allowed to cross-examined with reference to his previous assertion made before the police, his proof stands untested by interrogation and can't be acknowledged as approving his past statement.

Expeditious trial
justice delayed means justice denied
Expeditious trail refers speedy trial of the accused. This standard was considered under the idea of a reasonable preliminary to stay away from pointless provocation of the accused. In every inquiry or trial, the proceeding shall be held as expeditiously as possible, and in particular, when the examination of witness has once begun the same shall be continued from day to day until the witness in attendance have been examined unless the court find its adjournment of the same beyond the following days to be necessary for reason to be recorded. [sec.309(1)].

In Husianara Vs. State of Bihar 9 case it was held that speedy trial is important part of Article 12 of Indian constitution and it is the duty of the state to set up such technique which would guarantee fast preliminary of the charged.

Doctrine of double jeopardy
According to this doctrine if a person is tired and acquitted or convicted of any offence he cannot be tired again for the same offence or on the same facts for any other offence. This doctrine has been substantially incorporated in Article 20(2) of the constitution and is also embodied in section 300 of the code. The second or subsequent trial in violation of the above doctrine would mean unjust harassment of the accused person and can be considered as anything but fair and has prohibited both by the code and the constitution.

In S.A. Venkatraman Vs. Union of India10 case the Supreme Court held that the procedure taken before the Enquiry Commissioner didn't add up to a commission for an offense. It was in the idea of truth finding to prompt the Government for disciplinary activity against the appellant. It can't be said that the individual has been indicted.

Indian law is in consonance with the overall global lawful guidelines on the option to be attempted by an able and free and fair court. All people should be equivalent under the court. Each one will be qualified for a reasonable trial by a court set up by law. A striking necessity of reasonable fair trial is one immediately.

The privilege to a quick trial moving from Article 21 of the Constitution includes every one of the stages like examination, inquiry, correction, trial, re-trial. In a criminal case, a conviction can't be founded on the declaration of witnesses whose assessment in chief stands repudiated by their questioning. Appreciation for proof should be objective and impartial. In each criminal preliminary the level of probability of blame must be a lot higher, nearly producing to assurance; and if there is the smallest sensible or likely possibility of blamelessness of accused then the advantage should be given to him.

  1. See article 10 and 11 of the universal Declaration of Human Right as adopted and proclaimed by the General Assembly of the united nation on December 10, 1948
  2. Himanshu vs State of MP and Ors, MANU/SC/1193/2008.
  3. See observation in Kher Singh v. state of Delhi (1988) 3 SCC 609
  4. (2004) 3 SCC 767
  5. See observation in Kher Singh v. sate (Delhi) 3 SCC 609
  6. Kali Ram v. State of H.P (1973) 2 SCC 808: 1973 SCC (Cri) 1048 at p. 1059: 1974 cri LJ 1.
  7. State of U.P. v. Naresh and Ors, (2001) 4 SCC 324
  8. Badri v. State of Rajasthan, 1976: 1976 AIR 560, 1976 SCR (2) 339
  9. Husianara Vs. State of Bihar (1980) 1 SCC 98
  10. S.A. Venkataraman vs The Union of India and Another on 30 March, 1954: 1954 AIR 375, 1954 SCR 1150

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