Defers hearing till supply of documents following Supreme Court reprimand

The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Delhi High Court for rushing through criminal appeals and death reference cases relating to the December 16 gang-rape incident in which the trial court had awarded death sentence to the accused.

After hearing counsel Manohar Lal Sharma, a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Shiva Kirti Singh asked the High Court not to proceed with the hearing of the appeals insofar as the two accused Mukesh and Pawan Kumar Gupta were concerned, till they were supplied with the documents sought by them in Hindi.

The CJI told the Additional Solicitor General Siddharth Luthra: “In a death reference case, the court has to follow certain procedure. What is the urgency? Why should the court rush through the appeals even without numbering?”

The ASG said: “The appeals filed by accused Mukesh and Pawan have been assigned numbers, but they are defective as they are sketchy appeals. The defects have to be cured.”

The CJI asked the ASG: “Is it not the duty of the High Court to satisfy that the appeals are in order before taking them up? As a State you cannot deny the basic things to the accused, who are facing death sentence. They are only asking for translation of the trial court judgment and evidence into Hindi as they cannot understand English. Why can’t you provide them?”

The ASG replied: “Our concern is it [the demand] is used only as a dilatory tactic.”

The CJI said: “The High Court should not show this kind of anxiety in hearing the appeals. Tell us whether the High Court is deciding all death reference cases expeditiously. Then why are you rushing through this appeal? The accused must have the satisfaction that they were given full opportunity of being heard. You can’t deny them.”

The Bench, in its brief order, directed the State government to provide copy of the judgment, order on sentence, charge sheet and the evidence in Hindi within 10 days.

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