Supreme Court today set aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court order allowing the accused to recall and re-examine several prosecution witnesses in the case in which a senior manager was allegedly burnt alive and many others were injured in the 2012 labour unrest at Manesar plant of Maruti Suzuki Limited.
“We allow the appeals (filed by Haryana government and others), set aside the order passed by the High Court and restore that of the trial judge. We direct the learned trial judge to proceed with the trial in accordance with the law,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and U U Lalit said.
Avnish Dev, 51, General Manager, Human Resources of the company was allegedly burnt alive and nearly 100 others injured on the evening of July 18, 2012 when agitating workers went on a rampage, attacking officials and torching the office. The Haryana government had filed an appeal in the apex court against the High Court order annulling the order of the trial judge. The trial court had rejected the plea of some accused seeking to recall and re-examine some key witnesses on the grounds including that their main counsel was unwell.
“The High Court has been moved by the ground that the accused are in the custody and the concept of speedy trial is not nullified and no prejudice is caused, and, therefore, the principle of magnanimity should apply. Suffice it to say, a criminal trial does not singularly centre around the accused.
“In it, there is involvement of the prosecution, the victim and the victim represents the collective. The cry of the collective may not be uttered in decibels which is physically audible in the court premises, but the Court has to remain sensitive to such silent cries and the agonies, for the society seeks justice. Therefore, a balance has to be struck,” the apex court said.
It also said that “magnanimous approach” should not be confined to the accused only. “Regard being had to the concept of balance, and weighing the factual score on the scale of balance, we are of the convinced opinion that the High Court has fallen into absolute error in axing the order passed by the learned trial judge,” Justice Misra, writing the judgement, said.