SC RAPS TRIAL COURTS 

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By FROM OUR LEGAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 29.08.00
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New Delhi, Aug. 29 :     The Supreme Court today ruled that trial courts should not interfere with investigations and "waste time" picking holes in them. A division bench of Justice K.T. Thomas and Justice R.P. Sethi said: "The cause of criminal justice would become a victim if accused are acquitted due to flaws or defects in investigations." Delivering the judgment, Justice Thomas said: "Castigation of investigation, unfortunately, seems to be a regular practice when the trial courts acquit accused in criminal cases." The ruling was issued in context of a trail court order on the abduction of a businessman in Calcutta a few years ago, and the subsequent recovery of his body by the roadside. The trial court convicted the accused on charges of abduction, saying there was no proof that the victim had been murdered by his abductors. Nor was there evidence that the victim had been in the custody of the accused after abduction and that they had murdered him. Calcutta High Court not only upheld the trial court order, it also reduced the sentences of the convicts. It also severely criticised the investigating agency for lacunae in the probe. The case reached the Supreme Court on an appeal by the West Bengal government. It convicted the accused of murder, awarded them life sentences and directed the sessions judge "to take immediate steps for putting the convicted persons back in jail for undergoing the remaining period of the sentences imposed by this judgment". The apex court said it was almost impossible to come across a case where investigations conducted by the police or other authorities were "flawless or foolproof". "The function of criminal courts should not be wasted in picking out lapses in investigation and by expressing unsav- oury criticism against investigating officers," the judges obser- ved. "Efforts should be made by courts to see that criminal justice is salvaged despite defects in the investigation," they said.