This judgment from Hon’ble Apex Court which held that the accused may be allowed an inspection of the unmarked and unexhibited documents held by court that were submitted along with charge sheet.
From Para 7,
It is the view of the learned trial court as well as the High Court that in the present case the charges against the appellant were framed way back in the year 2007. At the time of the framing of the charge the court is required to satisfy itself that all papers, documents and statements required to be furnished to the accused under Section 207 Cr.P.C. have been so furnished. No grievance in this regard was raised by the appellant or any of the accused. The issue was also not raised at any point of time in the course of examination of any of the prosecution witnesses (over 250 witnesses had been examined). It has also been expressed by the High Court that though the appellant had answered over 532 questions in her examination under Section 313 Cr.P.C. no grievance was raised or any prejudice claimed by the appellant at any earlier point of time. It is also the view of the High Court that non furnishing of the copies of the documents or not conceding to the prayer for inspection will not automatically render the prosecution bad in law in as much as the effect of such action must result in prejudice to the accused which question can well be decided when the matter is being considered on merits. The High Court also took the view that the documents, copies or inspection of which was sought, being unmarked and unexhibited documents, objections can always be raised if the accused is to be questioned in connection with such documents in her examination under section 313 Cr.P.C. In addition to the above, the High Court was of the view that this court having passed clear directions in its order dated 18th November, 2003 that the criminal proceedings against the accused should be brought to its earliest conclusion by conducting the trial on day to day basis, the filing of the applications for certified copies/inspection of the unmarked and unexhibited documents constitute another attempt on the part of the appellant to over reach the order of this court and delay the trial. It is the correctness of the reasons assigned by the High Court for ultimate conclusions reached by it that has been assailed before us in the present appeals.
From Para 16,
The declaration of the law in Sidhartha Vashisht (supra) may have touched upon the outer fringe of the issues arising in the present case. However, the positive advancement that has been achieved cannot, in our view, be allowed to take a roundabout turn and the march has only to be carried forward. If the claim of the appellant is viewed in context and perspective outlined above, according to us, a perception of possible prejudice, if the documents or at least an inspection thereof is denied, looms large. The absence of any claim on the part of the accused to the said documents at any earlier point of time cannot have the effect of foreclosing such a right of the accused. Absence of such a claim, till the time when raised, can be understood and explained in several reasonable and acceptable ways. Suffice it would be to say that individual notion of prejudice, difficulty or handicap in putting forward a defence would vary from person to person and there can be no uniform yardstick to measure such perceptions. If the present appellant has perceived certain difficulties in answering or explaining some part of the evidence brought by the prosecution on the basis of specific documents and seeks to ascertain if the allegedly incriminating documents can be better explained by reference to some other documents which are in the court’s custody, an opportunity must be given to the accused to satisfy herself in this regard. It is not for the prosecution or for the Court to comprehend the prejudice that is likely to be caused to the accused. The perception of prejudice is for the accused to develop and if the same is founded on a reasonable basis it is the duty of the Court as well as the prosecution to ensure that the accused should not be made to labour under any such perception and the same must be put to rest at the earliest. Such a view, according to us, is an inalienable attribute of the process of a fair trial that Article 21 guarantees to every accused.
From Para 17,
V.K. Sasikala Vs State on 27 September, 2012
… What is of significance is if in a given situation the accused comes to the court contending that some papers forwarded to the Court by the investigating agency have not been exhibited by the prosecution as the same favours the accused the court must concede a right to in the accused to have an access to the said documents, if so claimed. This, according to us, is the core issue in the case which must be answered affirmatively. In this regard, we would like to be specific in saying that we find it difficult to agree with the view taken by the High Court that the accused must be made to await the conclusion of the trial to test the plea of prejudice that he may have raised. Such a plea must be answered at the earliest and certainly before the conclusion of the trial, even though it may be raised by the accused belately. This is how the scales of justice in our Criminal Jurisprudence have to be balanced.
Citations : [2013 AIR SC 613], [2013 AJR 1 683], [2014 ALLMR CRI 5183], [2013 CRI LJ 177], [2012 JT SC 9 609], [2013 KARLJ 3 83], [2012 KLJ 4 570], [2013 RCR CRIMINAL 1 244], [2012 SCALE 9 488], [2012 SCC 9 771], [2013 SCC CRI 1 1010], [2012 SCR 10 641], [2012 LW CRI 2 759], [2012 AIR SC 5502], [2012 CCR 4 205], [2012 DLT CRI 4 250], [2012 SLT 7 343], [2012 MLJ CRI 4 355], [2013 KANTLJ 3 83], [2013 MAHLJ CRI 1 258], [2012 SCC ONLINE SC 799], [2013 ECRN 1 16], [2012 AIR SCW 5502]
Other Sources :