The High Court, state governments, as well as the Union of India (in relation to investigating agencies in its control) would take drafted consequential amendments to their police and other manuals, within six months from the order. This honorable judgement was passed by Supreme Court of India in the case of In Re: To Issue Certain Guidlines Regarding Inadequacies and Deficiencies in Criminal Trial Vs. The State of ANDHRA Pradesh & Ors. [SUO MOTO WRIT (CRL) NO.(S) 1/2017] by The Hon’ble Chief Justice.
This suo motu proceeding under Article 32 was initiated during the course of hearing of a criminal appeal. The Court noticed common deficiencies which occurred in the course of criminal trials and certain practices adopted by trial courts in criminal proceedings as well as in the disposal of criminal cases and causes. These related, to the manner in which documents (i.e., list of witnesses, list of exhibits, list of material objects) referred to were presented and exhibited in the judgment, and the lack of uniform practices in regard to preparation of injury reports, deposition of witnesses, translation of statements, numbering and nomenclature of witnesses, labelling of material objects, etc. These very often lead to asymmetries and hamper appreciation of evidence, which in turn had a tendency of prolonging proceedings, especially at the appellate stages. The Court had noticed that on these prominent aspects, rules appeared to had been formulated by certain High Courts, whereas many other High Courts had not framed such rules. This had led to a lack of clarity and uniformity in regard to the presentation of trial court proceedings and records, for the purpose of appreciation at the High Court level and eventually, before this court. By an elaborated order dated 30.03.2017, this Court noted various salient aspects and flagged inadequacies in the practices and rules of High Courts by taking a cue from existing rules in some High Courts. After noticing about 13 issues, the Court felt the desirability of a uniform approach.
The court opinioned that, “the state and police authorities have to carry out necessary and consequential amendments to the police manuals, and other related instructions, to be followed by each state. Counsel appearing for states and union territories have assured that suitable steps to incorporate the Draft Rules – relating to Body sketch to accompany medico-legal certificate, post-mortem report and inquest report, Photographs and Video graphs of post mortem in certain cases and Scene Mahazar/ Spot Panchanama would be taken at the earliest.”
The suo motu proceeding is disposed of by court stating that, “All High Courts shall take expeditious steps to incorporate the said Draft Rules, 2021 as part of the rules governing criminal trials, and ensure that the existing rules, notifications, orders and practice directions are suitably modified, and promulgated (wherever necessary through the Official Gazette) within 6 months from today. If the state government’s co-operation is necessary in this regard, the approval of the concerned department or departments, and the formal notification of the said Draft Rules, shall be made within the said period of six months.”