Orissa High Court Allows Recall Of Witness 26 Yrs After He Was Cross-Examined & Discharged

The high court of Orissa passed a judgment on 23 March 2023, recently allowed a petition filed under Section 311 of the Code of Criminal Procedure after a delay of ‘26 years’ for recalling a witness who was cross-examined and discharged in 1997, in the case of Rudra Narayan Sahu v. State of Odisha (RLMC No. 947 of 2023), passed by the single Judge Bench of Justice Sashikanta Mishra. 

Facts of the case:

The petitioner and other defendants are being tried for the serious charge of triple murder. On September 15, 1997, he was discharged after being cross-examined. PW-19 was to be recalled for additional cross-examination after the petitioner filed a petition under Section 311 of the CrPC. The petition argued that because the attorney who was then representing the petitioner was ill, some questions pertinent to the defense could not be posed to him. The petition was, however, denied by the court below on the grounds that it had been filed more than 26 years after the defense phase had ended and that the accused had just intended to drag out the case’s resolution.

Therefore, the petitioner challenged the same before the High Court.

Courts Observations:

Because to the petitioner’s attorney’s significant kidney condition, the court noted that the IO could not be cross-examined. The supplemental petition included mention of the IO’s statement regarding the seizure of the crime weapon, PW-6’s statement about his residence to the IO, the IO’s statement regarding the involvement of other people in the case, the recording of the discovery statement, etc. After reviewing the aforementioned allegations, it was of the opinion that the Court below should not have been persuaded solely by concerns about delay. It made extensive reference to the principles laid down by the Apex Court in Rajaram Prasad Yadav v. State of Bihar on recall of witnesses. Therefore, the impugned order was set aside allowing the recall petition with some conditions.

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