Monday 13 May 2024

Under which circumstance irregularity in procedure will not amount to failure of justice?

 What does the expression 'failure of justice' mean? In Shamnsaheb M. Multani v. State of Karnataka   MANU/SC/0047/2001 : (2001) 2 SCC 577 it was held that the expression 'failure of justice' is too pliable or facile an expression which could be fitted in any situation. The criminal court, particularly the superior court should make a close examination to ascertain whether there was really a failure of justice or whether it is only a camouflage. {Para 71}

72. This decision was followed in State of M.P. v. Bhooraji   MANU/SC/0481/2001 : (2001) 7 SCC 679 and also in Rattiram v. State of M.P.   MANU/SC/0125/2012 : (2012) 4 SCC 516 In the latter decision, it was held that the expression 'failure of justice' must be given its due significance otherwise every procedural lapse or interdict could be interpreted to result in a failure of justice making the criminal justice delivery system completely illusory. Rattiram dealt with non-compliance with Section 193 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and it was held that this did not result in a failure of justice. It was held in paragraphs 65 and 66 of the Report as follows:

We may state without any fear of contradiction that if the failure of justice is not bestowed its due signification in a case of the present nature, every procedural lapse or interdict would be given a privileged place on the pulpit. It would, with unnecessary interpretative dynamism, have the effect potentiality to cause a dent in the criminal justice delivery system and eventually, justice would become illusory like a mirage. It is to be borne in mind that the legislature deliberately obliterated certain rights conferred on the Accused at the committal stage under the new Code. The intendment of the legislature in the plainest sense is that every stage is not to be treated as vital and it is to be interpreted to subserve the substantive objects of the criminal trial.

 An allegation of 'failure of justice' is a very strong allegation and use of an equally strong expression and cannot be equated with a miscarriage of justice or a violation of law or an irregularity in procedure-it is much more. If the expression is to be understood as in common parlance, the result would be that seldom would a trial reach a conclusion since an irregularity could take place at any stage, inadmissible evidence could be erroneously admitted, an adjournment wrongly declined etc. To conclude, therefore, Section 19(3)(c) of the PC Act must be given a very restricted interpretation and we cannot accept the over-broad interpretation canvassed by learned Counsel for the Appellants. {Para 77}


Criminal Appeal No. 1137 of 2017

Decided On: 13.07.2017

Girish Kumar Suneja Vs. C.B.I.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:

Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and A.K. Sikri, JJ.

Author: Madan B. Lokur, J.

Citation: AIR 2017 SC 3620,MANU/SC/0829/2017.

Read full Judgement here: Click here.

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