High court orders retrial of murder case


New Delhi : Upholding an accused person’s right to a fair trial, the Delhi High Court has sent back a murder case for retrial and observed that prosecution witnesses were not examined properly.

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A division bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Suresh Kait, while quashing the trial against Salamat Ali, said: “None can belittle the right of every accused to be fairly and adequately represented in a criminal trial, especially where capital sentence is involved.”

“A mere perusal of the cross-examination conducted in the instant case brings out the hopelessness of the trial, and highlights the ineffectiveness, inefficiency and low standards achieved by the defence counsel,” the bench said in an order delivered last week.

“Counsels play an important role in the resolution of issues in an adversarial system. Every accused has a right to meet the case of the prosecution on even terms,” the court said.

The order came on an appeal by Ali, challenging his conviction by the trial court for murdering his wife’s sister in 2006.

Setting aside the life imprisonment awarded to Ali, the high court said, “The witnesses of the prosecution have just not been cross-examined with reference to their testimony and the available material on record.”

“We are left with no option but to declare that the instant trial has not been fair to the appellant and the blame has to be principally on the shoulders of his counsel, with the trial judge partly sharing the blame for the reason he did not just bother to ensure that the defence raises the standard to meet the requirements of a fair trial,” the court said.

The court also directed the trial court to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses within three months.