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Case Background

  • The petitioner was accused under Sections 342, 366, and 376 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • When the trial proceeding was being held in the Court of the 3rdAdditional Sessions Judge, an Investigation Officer was examined by the Counsel of the petitioner.
  • However, the Judge did not find the questions asked by the Counsel during the examination to be relevant for the case, and warned him not to continue with such questions.
  • However, the Counsel interrogated further with questions that the Judge opined to be irrelevant.
  • As a consequence, the Learned Judge dismissed the right of the petitioner to cross examine the witness, in his order dated 6th January 2021.

Petitioner’s Contentions

  • It was submitted that the questions that were put forth in the examination of the Investigating Officer were relevant.
  • Moreover, even if they weren’t, that would not quash the petitioner’s right to cross examination, and the Judge’s order is unlawful.

Respondent’s Contentions

  • The Respondents argued that the order was not illegal, and that such directions are necessary to prevent unnecessary and irrelevant questions being asked during the examination of witnesses.

Court’s Order

  • The Madhya Pradesh High Court Bench of Justice Subodh Abhyankar quashed the order of the Additional Sessions Judge as being illegal and void.
  • The Court observed that the right to cross examination is an important right available to an accused to prove his innocence, and such a right cannot be dismissed for petty reasons.
  • The Court also suggested other ways through which Judges can restrict the Counsels from asking unnecessary questions, for instance, one such measure is by imposing fine.
  • It is advisable to the Judges to be patient and tolerant towards lawyers during the examination of witnesses as the art of cross examination can be only learned through a trial and error method,Justice Subodh Abhyankar opined.

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