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SG's & UOI shall carry out consequential amendments to their police & other manuals within 6 months

All High Courts too shall take expeditious steps to incorporate the said Draft Rules, 2021 as part of the rules governing criminal trials, and ensure that the existing rules, notifications, orders and practice directions are suitably modified, and promulgated (wherever necessary through the Official Gazette) within 6 months from today. If the state government’s co-operation is necessary in this regard, the approval of the concerned department or departments, and the formal notification of the said Draft Rules, shall be made within the said period of six months.(Para 19)


In Re: To Issue Certain Guidelines Regarding Inadequacies And Deficiencies In Criminal Trials V/s The State Of Andhra Pradesh & Ors.

SUO MOTO WRIT (CRL) NO.(S) 1/2017

Decided on April 20th, 2021A


A Three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court led by CJI S.A. Bobde along with Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat finalised the case wherein guidelines were to be laid to remove inefficiency in the criminal proceedings of various High courts.


This suo motu proceeding under Article 32 was initiated during the course of hearing of a criminal appeal. The Court noticed common deficiencies which occur in the course of criminal trials and certain practices adopted by trial courts in criminal proceedings as well as in the disposal of criminal cases and causes. These related, amongst others, to the manner in which documents (i.e. list of witnesses, list of exhibits, list of material objects) referred to are presented and exhibited in the judgment, and the lack of uniform practices in regard to preparation of injury reports, deposition of witnesses, translation of statements, numbering and nomenclature of witnesses, labeling of material objects, etc. These very often lead to asymmetries and hamper appreciation of evidence, which in turn has a tendency of prolonging proceedings, especially at the appellate stages.


The Court had noticed that there was a lack of clarity and uniformity in regard to the presentation of trial court proceedings and records, for the purpose of appreciation at the High Court level and eventually, before this court.


The Court therefore, issued notice to the Registrar Generals of all High Courts, Chief Secretaries and Administrators of States and Union Territories as well as Advocates General, Additional Advocates Generals and Senior Standing Counsel of all states and Union Territories. By a later order dated 07.11.2017, the Court appointed Mr. Sidharth Luthra and Mr. R. Basanth, Senior Advocates as amici curiae. On 20.02.2018, Mr. K. Parameshwar, learned counsel was also appointed as amicus curiae to assist the senior counsel who were earlier appointed as amici curiae. All concerned State Governments and Union Territories as well as High Courts through their Registrar Generals were called upon to submit their responses along with suggestions.


By January 2019, 15 States/Union Territories and 21 High Courts had filed responses before this court. Based upon these responses, the amici curiae evolved a consultation paper, which inter alia contained draft rules. The draft rules were circulated to all parties by a letter dated 18.02.2019. Written responses were invited from stakeholders and a colloquium was convened for this purpose in New Delhi at the India International Centre, on 30.03.2019. The colloquium was attended by representatives of different States/Union Territories and their respective High Courts.


It was pointed out by learned amici that the practice adopted predominantly in all trials is guided by the decision of this court in Bipin Shantilal Panchal v. State of Gujarat (2001) 3 SCC 1with respect to objections regarding questions to be put to witnesses.

It was submitted by the amici that as regards the subject matter relating to the first three Draft Rules, the state and police authorities have to carry out necessary and consequential amendments to the police manuals, and other related instructions, to be followed by each state. Counsel appearing for states and union territories have assured that suitable steps to incorporate the Draft Rules - relating to (1) Body sketch to accompany medico-legal certificate, post-mortem report and inquest report –[Draft Rule No. 1]; (2) Photographs and Video graphs of post mortem in certain cases [Draft Rule No. 2] and (3) Scene Mahazar/ Spot Panchanama [Draft Rule No. 3] would be taken at the earliest.


All High Courts too shall take expeditious steps to incorporate the said Draft Rules, 2021 as part of the rules governing criminal trials, and ensure that the existing rules, notifications, orders and practice directions are suitably modified, and promulgated (wherever necessary through the Official Gazette) within 6 months from today. If the state government’s co-operation is necessary in this regard, the approval of the concerned department or departments, and the formal notification of the said Draft Rules, shall be made within the said period of six months.(Para 19)


Hence, the ratified Draft Rules of Criminal Practice, 2021 was enclosed in the Judgment.


View/Download Judgment: In Re: To Issue Certain Guidelines Regarding Inadequacies And Deficiencies In Criminal Trials V/s The State Of Andhra Pradesh & Ors.


Risikesh Dhanaki

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