Any individual can participate in the trial of a criminal case before the Sessions Court as well as the appeal proceedings before the High Court and assist the Public Prosecutor concerned in conducting the case, the Madras High Court Bench here has ruled.

A Division Bench of Justices S. Rajeswaran and G.M. Akbar Ali passed the ruling while disposing of a petition filed by a complainant in a murder-for-gain case to cancel an order passed by the High Court on March 7 suspending the life sentence imposed on two of the five convicts in the case. The judges rejected the petitioner's plea to cancel their earlier order. However, they gave an opportunity to him to participate in the appeal proceedings and assist the public prosecutor. It was made clear that the complainant should act only under the direction and guidance of the prosecutor.

Writing the judgement for the Bench, Mr. Justice Ali pointed out that Section 302 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.P.C.) stated that a Judicial Magistrate, trying a case, could permit the prosecution to be conducted by any individual either personally or through a pleader.

In so far as the Sessions courts were concerned, Section 301 (2) of the Cr.P.C. states that any private individual could instruct a pleader to prosecute any person in any court and on such instruction, the Assistant Public Prosecutor, in charge of the case, shall conduct the prosecution.

Interpreting the Sections in J.K. International Vs. State Government of Delhi, the Supreme Court had said: “The courts are given powers to permit even private persons to submit their written arguments in the court. The court has a duty to consider such arguments before taking a decision.”

The Division Bench, however, refused to cancel the order suspending the life sentence of the convicts, while admitting an appeal filed by them on March 7, on the ground that it was a speaking order which gave a handful of reasons for suspending the sentence and granting bail.

“We are satisfied that the appellants (convicts) do not carry any criminal history and there is no likelihood for them to abscond or flee from the judicial proceedings. The petitioner has also not pleaded or placed any materials to show the criminal history of the accused,” the Bench reasoned.