Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Whether counsel for accused can be provided video conferencing facility to talk with accused in jail?

In our view such a direction on part of the Supreme Court Legal
Services Committee is quite commendable and praiseworthy. Very often we
see that the learned Advocates who appear in matters entrusted by the
Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, do not have the advantage of
having had a dialogue with either the accused or those who are in the know
of the details about the case. This at times seriously hampers the efforts on
part of the learned Advocates. All such attempts to facilitate dialogue between the counsel and his client would further the cause of justice and
make legal aid meaningful. We, therefore, direct all Legal Services
Authorities/Committees in every State to extend similar such facility in
every criminal case wherever the accused is lodged in jail. They shall
extend the facility of video conferencing between the counsel on one hand
and the accused or anybody in the know of the matter on the other, so that
the cause of justice is well served.
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CRIMINAL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CRIMINAL) No. 6740 of 2018
(Diary No.20446 of 2018)

Imtiyaz Ramzan Khan State of Maharashtra .

Dated:August 14, 2018


Uday Umesh Lalit, J.
1. Though these two special leave petitions are completely unconnected
but they present one common feature and as such we propose to deal with
these two special leave petitions by this common Judgment.
2. Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No.________ (D.No.20446 of 2018) of
2018 challenges the decision dated 30.08.2013 of the High Court of
2
Judicature at Bombay dismissing Criminal Appeal No.986 of 2005 preferred
by the petitioner and thereby affirming his conviction for the offence
punishable under Section 302 IPC and sentence of imprisonment for life.
The prosecution principally relied on the testimony of two eye witnesses,
namely, PWs 3 and 5 whose evidence was found by the High Court to be
worthy of reliance and completely unblemished. The decision rendered by
the High Court, in our view, does not call for interference and as such we
dismiss this special leave petition.
3. In Special Leave Petition (Crl.) No._______ (Diary No.21026 of
2018) of 2018 the decision dated 17.02.2014 passed by the High Court of
Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur in Criminal Appeal No.850 of 2009 is under
challenge. The High Court by its judgment and order affirmed the
conviction of the petitioner under Section 302 IPC and his sentence of
imprisonment for life. Though the defence of sudden fight was taken on
behalf of the petitioner, the High Court on detailed analysis rejected said
theory and found the petitioner guilty of the offence in question. Having
gone through the matter, we see no reason to take a different view and as
such we dismiss this special leave petition.

4. We now come to the common feature between these two matters. Mr.
Shikhil Suri, learned Advocate appeared for the accused in both the matters.
On pervious dates letters were circulated by the learned Advocate appearing
for the petitioners that the matters be adjourned so as to enable the counsel
to make arrangements for conducting video conferencing with the concerned
accused. The letter further stated that this exercise was made mandatory as
per the directions of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee. This
Court readily agreed and adjourned the matters. On the adjourned date, we
enquired from Mr. Shikhil Suri, learned Advocate whether he could
successfully get in touch with the concerned accused. According to the
learned Advocate he could not get in touch with the accused in the first
matter but could speak with his sister whereas in the second matter he could
have video conference with the accused.
5. In our view such a direction on part of the Supreme Court Legal
Services Committee is quite commendable and praiseworthy. Very often we
see that the learned Advocates who appear in matters entrusted by the
Supreme Court Legal Services Committee, do not have the advantage of
having had a dialogue with either the accused or those who are in the know
of the details about the case. This at times seriously hampers the efforts on
part of the learned Advocates. All such attempts to facilitate dialogue between the counsel and his client would further the cause of justice and
make legal aid meaningful. We, therefore, direct all Legal Services
Authorities/Committees in every State to extend similar such facility in
every criminal case wherever the accused is lodged in jail. They shall
extend the facility of video conferencing between the counsel on one hand
and the accused or anybody in the know of the matter on the other, so that
the cause of justice is well served.
…………………..……J.
(Abhay Manohar Sapre)
…………………..……J.
(Uday Umesh Lalit)
New Delhi,
August 14, 2018
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