Justice should not be sacrificed in an attempt to dispose of a case in a speedy manner, a Delhi court has said while setting aside the jail term awarded to two men for allegedly robbing a person of valuables in 2011. The observation was made by Additional Sessions Judge S K Gupta while allowing the appeal of the two men challenging the three-year sentence awarded to them by a magisterial court on grounds that they did not get a chance to cross-examine two important police witnesses.
“Prosecution witnesses 4 and 5 (police officials) have deposed about recovery of robbed articles from the appellants. Both are material witnesses. The cross examination of any witness is essential in order to bring out the truth. The appellants have no way to bring his defence on record except to test the credibility of witnesses during the cross examination.
“The counsel for the appellants was not present. The court should have deferred their cross examination instead of recording as ‘Nil Opportunity’ given. Justice should not be sacrificed in an attempt to dispose of the case in a speedy manner,” the judge said.
The court said interest of justice demands that both of them (witnesses) should be recalled for cross examination in order to bring defence on record. “Their cross-examination is all the more essential in order to unfold the real facts,” it said while sending the matter back to the trial court and asking it to give the appellants an opportunity to cross-examine those witnesses and dispose of the case expeditiously.
“To my mind, trial court has not given opportunity to appellants for cross-examination of PW4 and 5 though reliance is placed on their testimony while convicting appellants.
“In these circumstances, the trial court has committed an illegality by placing reliance on their testimony while deciding the case. The conviction and sentence passed against appellants cannot be sustained in view of these facts,” it said.
A magisterial court had on February 1, 2017 sentenced the two men to jail for three years for the offence of robbery under section 392 read with section 34 (common intention) of the IPC.
In their appeal against the order, the men contended that it was a cooked up story by the complainant and they did not get a chance to cross-examine material witnesses in the case.
According to the complaint, on May 21, 2011 the complainant was going home on his motorcycle and had stopped near Moolchand metro station here due to a dust storm. As soon as he stopped, two persons came and beat him before robbing him of his mobile phone and wallet which contained Rs 200 cash and debit and credit cards, and fled with his motorcycle, it alleged. An FIR was lodged and the accused were arrested by two policemen five days later.