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SC critical of handling of criminal trials in Bihar

New Delhi: Criminal trials by some of the subordinate courts in Bihar are conducted in "neglectful" way, a concerned Supreme Court has said and asked the Patna High Court to take corrective measures.

"It is our experience that in criminal trials in Bihar no proper attention is paid to the framing of charges and the examination of the accused under section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the two very important stages in a criminal trial," said a bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam, who earlier was a judge in the Patna High Court.

"The examination of the accused are mostly done in the most unmindful and mechanical manner," said the bench, which also included Justice R M Lodha.

"We wish that the Patna High Court should take note of the neglectful way in which some of the courts in the state appear to be conducting trials of serious offences and take appropriate corrective steps," the bench said. It also directed that a copy of its judgement be sent to the High Court registry and state`s judicial academy.

The bench made the critical observation over the functioning of state`s subordinate judiciary, while acquitting a murder convict Sajjan Sharma, sentenced to life imprisonment by a Naugachia session court in Bhagalpur district of Bihar.

The trial court ruling had also been upheld by the Patna High Court.

The apex court`s observations came after it detected that Sajjan was falsely implicated in the murder case at a later state by the victim`s family despite his having no role in the offence. His father and brother were among those allegedly involved in the case.

"We are constrained to say that this is not an isolated case but it is almost a stereotype," the bench said while referring to cases where a member of the assailant`s family, who has been left out in the First Information Report, is implicated at a later stage.

"It is endemic that some other innocent persons or even such of the members of the family of the accused who might not be present at the time of commission of offence are also roped in and falsely implicated," said the court.

The court gave its ruling while adjudicating the appeal of Sajjan, whose father Satto Sharma and brother Shambhu Sharma were involved in November 1994 killing of one Naraion Kunwar by an armed gang of his co-villagers over old enmity.

The others in the gang included Bodhan Rai, Sukesh Kunwar and Paro Kunwar. Though Sharma`s father and brother died during the course of trial, Naugachhia`s session court convicted Sajjan along with two others.

"Let a copy of this order be placed before the judge of the Patna High Court, in-charge of the State`s Judicial Academy," the apex court said.

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