A Sessions court here has ordered re-trial of a man sentenced by a magisterial court to three years’ rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.5,000 for injuring a man while robbing him after noting that his lawyer did not put up a proper defence and let go of the opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witnesses.
Additional Sessions Judge Kaveri Baweja asked the accused Sonu to appear before the trial court again on December 17, saying that he would be entitled to only one opportunity to cross-examine each prosecution witness subject to their availability and that no further opportunity would be granted for this purpose by the trial court.
Sonu and three others were arrested for robbing a man’s wallet containing Rs.247, in 2005 near the Sadar Bazar area, and assaulting him in the process.
Two of the accused died during the trial.
Though the Sessions court noted that Sonu was represented by a counsel throughout the trial, yet, the prosecution witnesses were not cross-examined, “for reasons best known to the defence”. The victim in the case, was examined as the star witness, and though he was cross-examined to some extent, apparently no relevant questions were put to him by the defence counsel.
Three policemen who were witnesses deposed about Sonu’s arrest at the instance of his co-accused.
“The trial court relied upon un-rebutted testimonies of prosecution witnesses and convicted the appellant as aforesaid. It thus appears on going through the entire record of the case that the appellant was convicted as a result of complete inaction on the part of the defence counsel. The record further reveals that the defence counsel failed to even file any application under Section 311 Cr. PC in order to seek an opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses,” the judge said.
“Thus, with a view to afford an opportunity to the appellant to have a fair trial and an opportunity to defend himself by subjecting prosecution witnesses to cross-examination, I deem it appropriate to set aside the impugned judgment and order on sentence qua appellant Sonu with directions to the trial court to recall the prosecution witnesses and afford an opportunity to the appellant to cross-examine them before deciding the case against the accused/appellant herein a fresh,” Ms. Baweja said.