…represent the accused in custody in the magistrate court, they said. Mr. Ramkumar felt that the image of the judiciary has suffered a beating by the strange actions of the magistrate, which warranted the intervention from the High Court.

Regarding the recording of the statement, he said the entire procedure followed by the magistrate in the case was flawed. When an accused appears before a magistrate and expresses the desire to speak out about a case, the primary duty of the magistrate is to record that statement under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedural Code after administering a word of caution.

There are no provisions in law which permit the magistrate to conduct an interview with the accused after closing the doors of the court room. The very fact that the court asked all the litigants and lawyers to be outside the court room indicated that the magistrate was going to record the statement of the accused. After listening to the accused for 20 minutes, the magistrate was bound to record her statement, he said.

The CrPC does not contemplate any oral transactions between magistrate and an accused. Once the accused expresses the desire to speak out, the magistrate must follow the procedures as prescribed in Sec.164 of the Code and record the statements after giving time for reflection.This is to ensure that the accused makes a voluntary statement, he said.

The faulty procedure led to the shutting out of material evidencein the case. It was also irregular on the part of the magistrate to take note of the media publicity in the case. The court should not be concerned about media publicity and it should not embroil itself in political controversies and should steer clear from political polemics, said Mr. Ramkumar.

Referring to the magistrate’s order which stated that “rumours have spread that the court had recorded the statements of the accused in the facts of the case and she had revealed the names of Cabinet Ministers in the State and the court had further prohibited dissemination of said facts,” Mr. Ramkumar said that there was no occasion for the magistrate to sit in judgement over rumours and reports without specifying what they were and who was trying to outwit the court. High Court lawyer Sivan Madathil said the procedures followed by the magistrate in the case created suspicion in the minds of members of the legal fraternity as well as public. The revelations of the counsel of the accused added to the suspicion. There was also no legal provision for him to disqualify the lawyer representing the accused in the case, Mr. Madathil said. Mr. Jayasankar said that the judge had no right to question the integrity of the lawyer who represented the accused.