FAIR TRIAL: AN ESSENTIAL OF JUDICIAL SYSTEM

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The article is written by Nancy Chaturvedi of Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal and curated by Himanshu Raj of Chanakya National law University. 

The appellant was convicted under punishable offence of section 18 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 and was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for a period of 10 years and to pay a fine of one lakh Rupees in default of payment.

For brief Chand Singh along with other police officials were passing by the Carnal Minor bridge in their private jeep on patrol duty, the accused carrying a bag in right hand turned towards the southern end on seeing the police, he was apprehended on being suspicious. The search operation in the presence of ASP Abohra was done on spot as the provision of law.1 kg 750 gram of opium was found. Two samples of 10 grams were separated and rset was sealed and kept in possession. An FIR was lodged sending Ruqa to the police station, the accused was arrested and was challaned on completion of investigation charging him under section 18 of the act which he pleaded not guilty and went for trial.

To prove the charges prosecution brought in 4 witnesses and examined all incriminating circumstances against him, the accused pleading false implication showing no evidence in defence. The Learned Special judge appreciating the oral and written documentary sentenced a rigorous imprisonment of 10 years with one lakh fine in default to undergo a year imprisonment.

Aggrieved moved to the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh where his appeal was dismissed holding to the judgment of the Special Judge.

It was contended by a senior counsel that the link of evidence was incomplete and that one of the witnesses was not examined therein pleading violation of section 50 of NDPS act. The senior counsel also mentioned that the witnesses were police officials and the evidence does not stand vitiated. Reliance was taken of State of Punjab v. Baldev Singh (1999) 6 SCC 172, Surendra v. State of Haryana (2016) 4 SCC 617.

 The mere fact that there may have been a seal cannot lead to any presumption in absence of the examination of ASI Balwinder Singh. Likewise, it was also a subject of investigation why PW1 did not make any roznamcha entry of the seized property and the reason why he retained the case property and sample in his private custody in a rented house despite the availability of a malkhana adding on there was a delay in sending it to chemical analyst. The trial court held that the investigation officer was also a complainant who could have been investigated on certain grounds which the prosecution tainted was reversed by the High Court.

Seeking the Kerala High Court the F.I.R was a gospel truth and investigation an empty formality. Article 21 of the Indian Constitution ensures a fair and just investigation and trial which stood neglected in this case. An investigation is a clear explanation of what occurred and why it occurred; it has a collection of facts leading to a burden of proof. The word systematic suggests that it is whimsical involving various steps, the fact is mere information and synonymous to truth.

The law in regard of Article 21 is to be laid down with certainty the importance of fair investigation. Manhandling can only lead to abuse to lawyers, police officials, judges and would create confusion and uncertainty which should be avoided.

It is therefore very much important to lay down essential fair postulates and conduct fair investigation. Justice must be seen and not just done. Any biased or pre-determined conclusions must be avoided.

The prosecution is held to be vitiated because of the infraction of the constitutional guarantee of a fair investigation. The appellant is directed to be set at liberty forthwith unless wanted in any other case.

 

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