SC directs all HCs to adopt Draft Rules of Criminal Practice[Read Judgement]

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The Supreme Court Tuesday directed all High Courts to adopt the Draft Rules of Criminal Practice as part of the rules governing criminal trials and ensure that the existing rules, notifications, orders and practice directions are suitably modified and promulgated within six months.

“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 said period of six months,” a bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said.

The apex court also directed that the state governments, as well as the Union of India (in relation to investigating agencies in its control) shall carry out consequential amendments to their police and other manuals, within six months from today.

“This direction applies, specifically in respect of Draft Rules 1-3. The appropriate forms and guidelines shall be brought into force, and all agencies instructed accordingly, within six months from today,” the bench said.

The three-judge bench also comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat said that the courts in all criminal trials should, at the beginning of the trial, i.e. After summoning of the accused, and framing of charges, hold a preliminary case management hearing.

“This hearing may take place immediately after the framing of the charge. In this hearing, the court should consider the total number of witnesses, and classify them as eyewitness, material witness, formal witness (who would be asked to produce documents, etc) and experts,” the bench said.

The Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2021 deals with various aspects of criminal trial including post mortem report, charge, trial, recording of evidence among others.

According to the draft rules, as per Every Medico Legal Certificate, Post Mortem Report shall contain a printed format of the human body on its reverse and injuries, if any, shall be indicated on such sketch.

The rules state that the depositions of witnesses shall be recorded, in typed format, if possible and the record of evidence shall be prepared on computers, if available, in the Court on the dictation of the Presiding Officer.

The judgement came on a suo motu case of 2017 related to the “deficiencies and inadequacies” in criminal trials in the country in which it proposed to amend the criminal manual and the rules which can be incorporated in the existing ones of the High Courts.

The apex court also placed its appreciation and gratitude to the contributions and effort of senior advocates Siddharth Luthra, R. Basanth and advocate K. Parameshwar, appointed as amicus curiae, for giving valuable inputs and innumerable suggestions.

Read Judgement here: