A Single Bench of Justice Sandeep Sharma of Himachal Pradesh HC held that “Right to cross examination vested in the petitioner could not have been closed by learned Court below, on account of absence of his counsel, rather, in that situation, court should have provided some legal aid counsel to the accused”.
The Petitioner had approached the High Court under Section 439 of CrPC for regular bail. However, during the course of hearing, he did not press the prayer for bail but rather challenged an order dated April 8, 2019, of the Trial Court, whereby his right to cross examination of the prosecution witnesses was closed, on account of absence of his counsel, who otherwise had informed the court that he on account of pre-occupation at Nalagarh is unable to come.
The Petitioner had pleaded the Court to exercise its inherent powers under Section 482 of CrOC, and quash the said order and restore his right to cross examination.
The Court held that the court below “ought to have adjourned the cross examination.” It further said that the Court should have provided some legal aid counsel to the Petitioner in order to conduct cross examination of prosecution witnesses and should not have closed the right of the petitioner.
“One cannot lose sight of the fact that it is the petitioner, who has suffered on account of non-appearance of the counsel, as a consequence of which his right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses has been closed. Petitioner who is behind the bars even may not be aware that his counsel was not present on the day when prosecution witnesses were being examined, as such, in such like situation, it is duty of the court to ensure that vested right of the accused, who is unable to defend himself/herself is duly protected,” the Bench observed.
The Court held,
“No doubt, order sought to be quashed in the instant proceedings, otherwise is required to be laid challenge, if aggrieved, by way of filing criminal revision under S.397 read with S.401 CrPC, but, as has been taken note herein above, court while exercising power under Ss. 401, 482 and 483 CrPC, can also intervene when it comes to its notice that order passed by a subordinate court, if allowed to sustain, would result in grave miscarriage of justice or same is result of sheer abuse of process of law.“
The bench further observed,
“there is no complete bar on exercise of inherent power by High court, especially where there is abuse of process of law or extraordinary situation comes to notice of the court in the exercise of aforesaid jurisdiction. Plea of limitation raised by Learned Deputy Advocate General is not applicable in the instant case, because, if glaring injustice stares court on its face, it is bounden duty of the court to correct that glaring injustice by passing appropriate orders.“