Criminal Trial must be conducted on day to day basis

Adjournment in Criminal Trial not permissible.

Section 309 o Cr. P.C. is as under:

Power to postpone or adjourn proceedings.
(1) In every inquiry or trial, the proceedings shall be held as expeditiously as possible, and in particular, when the examination of witnesses has once begun, the same shall be continued from day to day until all the witnesses in attendance have been examined, unless the Court finds the adjournment of the same beyond the following day to be necessary for reasons to be recorded.
(2) If the Court, after taking cognizance of an offence, or commencement of trial, finds it necessary or advisable to postpone the commencement of, or adjourn, any inquiry or trial, it may, from time to time, for reasons to be recorded, postpone or adjourn the same on such terms as it thinks fit, for such time as it considers reasonable, and may by a warrant remand the accused if in custody:

Provided that no Magistrate shall remand an accused person to custody under this section for a term exceeding fifteen days at a time: Provided further that when witnesses are in attendance, no adjournment or postponement shall be granted, without examining them, except for special reasons to be recorded in writing:

Provided also that no adjournment shall be granted for the purpose only of enabling the accused person to show cause against the sentence proposed to be imposed on him.]

Explanation 1.- If sufficient evidence has been obtained to raise a suspicion that the accused may have committed an offence, and it appears likely that further evidence may be obtained by a remand, this is a reasonable cause for a remand.

Explanation 2.- The terms on which an adjournment or postponement may be granted include, in appropriate cases, the payment of costs by the prosecution or the accused.

Mandate of day to day trial

12. Thus, the legal position is that once examination of witnesses started, the court has to continue the trial from day to day until all witnesses in attendance have been examined (except those whom the party has given up). The court has to record reasons for deviating from the said course. Even that is forbidden when witnesses are present in court, as the requirement then is that the court has to examine them. Only if there are “special reasons”, which reasons should find a place in the order for adjournment, that alone can confer jurisdiction on the court to adjourn the case without examination of witnesses who are present in court.

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Justice to witnesses

Witnesses appearing in courts also need justice

Now when we speak of the ends of justice, we mean justice not only to the defendant and to the other side but also to witnesses and others who may be inconvenienced.

It is an unfortunate fact that the convenience of the witness is ordinarily lost sight of in this class of case and yet be is the one that deserves the greatest consideration. As a rule, he is not particularly interested in the dispute but he is vitally interested in his own affairs which he is compelled to abandon because a Court orders him to come to the assistance of one or other of the parties to a dispute. His own business has to suffer. He may have to leave his family and his affairs for days on end. He is usually out of pocket. Often he is a poor man living in an out of the way village and may have to trudge many weary miles on foot. And when he gets there, there are no arrangements for him. He is not given accommodation; and when he reaches the Court, in most places there is no room in which he can wait. He has to loiter about in the verandahs or under the trees, shivering in the cold of winter and exposed to the heat of summer , wet and miserable in the rains: and then, after wasting hours and sometimes days for his turn, he is brusquely told that he must go back and come again another day. Continue reading “Justice to witnesses”