The Supreme Court in the case Sutherson v. Deputy Superintendent of Police and Anr. observed and has declined to entertain the petition moved wherein challenging a directive issued by the Madras High Court to conduct trial proceedings within prison premises.
The bench comprising of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta in the case observed wherein the special leave petition is filed against the order of October 11, despite the fact that the appellant questioning appropriateness of such judicial orders even in exceptional circumstances.
In the present case, the appeal was filed by one Sutherson against the rejection of his bail plea by a Thoothukudi special court. He was being arrested for the murder of an advocate over suspected business rivalry and property disputes. Thus, motivated by apprehensions which relates to the witness safety and the potential for witness intimidation.
The Madras High Court in the case observed and has denied the bail to the accused, but also directed the trial proceedings to be conducted in jail.
The counsel, Senior Advocate S Nagamuthu, representing Sutherson, contested before the court that the jurisdiction under which the order of the high court was passed, wherein it is argued that it exceeded the scope of the court’s bail jurisdiction as stated under Section 439 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, CrPC.
The bench headed by Justice Khanna in the case observed and has asserted the discretionary nature of the high court order. The judge stressed that while the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Civil Procedure provide procedural frameworks, the judiciary retains the authority to adopt appropriate measures to ensure a just and equitable trial process. The court stated that the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Code of Civil Procedure are not complete codes and as long as the procedure is fair, it may be adopted. The said part of the order was under Section 482 of CrPC, and is specific to this case.
Adding to it, the bench headed by Justice Khanna stated that the said order can be passed the convenience of the witnesses and the police.
The Supreme Cour tin the case observed and has upheld the decision of the High Court, while citing the exceptional circumstances surrounding the case, which includes the murder of a witness and the need for expedited trial proceedings.
The bench headed by Justice Khanna explained the rationale behind the decision of the court wherein it is stated that there was a murder of one brother. The witness, i.e., the other brother also has been murdered. There have been complaints and they wanted orders for police protection.
The court granted the protection to witness and when there is a murder of this nature, there is a great concern and sometimes courts have to take strong action to ensure that the trial is conducted expeditiously. Thus, there are threats still and we cannot close our eyes to that.
Further, the court stated that this court is not inclined to interfere with the impugned judgment and the special leave petition is dismissed.
The bench headed by Justice Khanna, which acknowledging the concerns raised by Nagamuthu regarding judicial precedent stated that the decision of the court is based on the unique circumstances of the case and the imperative to ensure a fair and secure trial environment.
The bench at the insistence of the senior counsel agreed to keep the question of law open for future consideration.
Accordingly, the court dismissed the special leave petition.