To ensure a fair trial in criminal cases and sessions cases where police officers or uniformed services personnel are arraigned as accused, the trial must be transferred to a nearby district, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled.
The court directed that such cases be reviewed, and necessary application be filed before the High Court to transfer the trial to the nearby district sessions courts. Justice RMT. Teekaa Raman directed the Home Secretary to issue the necessary instructions in this regard. The judge observed that this should be done to enable private prosecution witnesses and independent witnesses to depose without any fear or influence of the local persons.
The court was hearing a petition filed in 2014 by R. Senthilnathan of Tirunelveli. He sought a direction to be reinstated in the Police Department. He, along with another policeman, were alleged to have been responsible for the death of a fellow policeman in 2006 and were subjected to an inquiry.
However, they were held guilty only on the charge that they failed to inform their superior officer about the death, as soon as they knew about it. In the sessions case, the accused were acquitted since the private prosecution witnesses turned hostile. The sessions case ended in acquittal.
Justice Teekaa Raman said had the head of the department, the SP or the Commissioner taken out an application before the court for transfer of the sessions case to the neighbouring district, the result of the case could have been different.
When the accused are police personnel, the head of the unit has to review the case and take steps to ensure that a fair trial is conducted in a sessions case, that too, in the murder of another policeman, by requesting for the transfer of the sessions case to the nearest district/sessions court.
Confidence of the State in the conduct and behaviour of persons it has appointed to the police is integral to its duty to maintain law and order, the judge said. The petition filed by the policeman was dismissed as devoid of merits.