Editorial: Land of liberty

While setting aside the Punjab and Haryana High Court order which had dismissed a plea filed by a man on the grounds that his lawyer had remained absent on four occasions during the hearing, the Supreme Court has said liberty of a citizen cannot be taken away in this manner.

It observed that the High Court was manifestly in error in rejecting the revision in default and it ought to have appointed another lawyer as amicus curiae to assist it in the matter which pertained to conviction under the Arms Act.

An apex court bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said, the High Court, in our view, was manifestly in error in rejecting the revision in default, on the ground that the appellant’s advocate had remained absent on the previous four occasions.

Since the revision before the HC arose out of an order of the conviction under the Arms Act, the High Court ought to have appointed an amicus curiae in the absence of counsel, who has been engaged by the legal services authority, Rohtak. The liberty of a citizen cannot be taken away in this manner, said the bench, also comprising Justices Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee.

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal filed by the man and set aside the 11 February and 16 July orders of the High Court. On 11 February, the HC had dismissed the plea filed by the man challenging his conviction saying that, Perusal of file shows that this revision has been taken on board six times, including today. On four occasions, none came forward to represent the petitioner in the span of approximately one year and four months. Therefore, it can safely be inferred that petitioner or his counsel is no more interested in pursuing this revision. Dismissed for want of prosecution.

Later, on 16 July, the high court had dismissed the application for restoration of plea saying that no grounds for restoration was established. The man, through his counsel M K Ghosh, had approached the Supreme Court against the High Court order and got this verdict. The apex court has pronounced an important order, as court is the last resort for the common public to get justice.

 

NT Bureau