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Supreme Court Criticizes Delay in Cross-Examination

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SUPREME COURT LAW INSIDER

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Published on: February 12, 2024 at 12:45 IST

In a recent development, the Supreme Court disapproved of the practice of deferring the cross-examination of prosecution witnesses until the examination-in-chief of other accused individuals is completed.

The Court expressed its dismay over such a procedure, stating that it finds the practice deprecable.

A bench consisting of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan condemned the situation, where the Trial Court recorded the examination-in-chief of the first witness (PW-1) but postponed cross-examination until after the examination-in-chief of other witnesses.

The Court deprecated this practice and emphasized the need for a more appropriate approach.

The Court was also surprised to learn that the State relied on confessional statements made by the accused and recorded by the police.

Describing this reliance as a “disturbing feature,” the bench stated, “To put it mildly, we are shocked to note that the State is relying upon confessional statements recorded before the police.”

In response to an application for bail filed under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for offenses under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act, the High Court rejected the bail plea, considering the stage of proceedings and fixing a date for recording the prosecution evidence.

The Supreme Court, therefore, refused to grant bail solely for the purpose of allowing the completion of the cross-examination of the two eyewitnesses.

Case Title: Saiful Laskar v. The State Of West Bengal.