The Supreme Court next week is likely to consider a plea seeking a direction that presence of undertrials before the trial courts should not be ordered as a routine on each and every date, and video conferencing facility should be used in case of gangster, for public safety as well as security of judicial officers.
A bench headed by Chief Justice U.U. Lalit is likely to take up the PIL filed by advocate Rishi Malhotra on October 11.
The PIL raises an issue of power of trial courts for ordering attendance of undertrial prisoners before it as a matter of routine practice without adhering to the statutory mandate as provided in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The plea contended that it cannot be disputed that an undertrial prisoner has a constitutional right to be present before the trial court when the trial against him is in progress. However, the said right is not an absolute right and is rather qualified by various provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
“The fulcrum of the instant Public Interest Litigation is to prevent the various trial courts across India to not to insist on presence of undertrials on each and every date as a matter of routine practice thereby not only endangering the safety of public as well as judicial officers but also facilitating the opportunity of hardcore prisoners from escaping from the custody of the police”, said the plea.
The plea cited the instance of the Rohini Court firing which happened on September 24, 2021, in which a dreaded gangster was shot dead when he was produced before the trial court for his usual appearance. “Apart from this there have been various instances all across the trial courts in India where during the normal usual course of appearances before the trial court by an undertrial, either the public safety has been put to danger or the said undertrial has fled from the custody of the police”, added the plea.
It added that the Code of Criminal Procedure in various provisions viz. sec.205, 267, 268, 270, 273 and 317 C.R.P.C. have provided powers to the concerned court to dispense the personal presence of undertrial from jails during normal trial proceedings.
The plea contended that even if the trial court deem fit in a particular case presence of an accused as an undertrial before it, it can avail video conferencing facility and especially in the cases of gangsters — so that the public safety as well as the security of the judicial officers remained intact on one hand and the rights of an accused is balanced on the other hand.