New Delhi: A person should not be put on
trial unless it is ensured that he has the access to adequate
legal aid to defend himself, a Delhi court has said while
quashing the conviction and four-months jail term to a man for
allegedly stealing a motorcycle 11 years ago.
While setting aside a metropolitan magistrate`s ruling,
district judge R K Gauba referred the theft case back to him
for holding a fresh trial after ensuring that the accused is
given the chance to defend himself.
"I am of the considered view that the learned magistrate
should not have proceeded with the trial without ensuring that
the appellant (Akil) had available to him services of defence
counsel," the judge said.
"In the result, the impugned judgement (challenged) and
order on sentence are set aside. The appeal stands allowed.
The matter is remanded back to the trial court for further
proceedings in accordance with law," the judge said.
He asked the magistrate to give an opportunity to the
accused to arrange a counsel to defend himself and also recall
the witnesses for their cross examination.
The order came on an appeal by Mohammad Akil, who had
been sentenced to four months in jail in April for allegedly
stealing a motorcycle in 2000.
In his appeal, Akil said he was not given a fair trial
and during the examination of witnesses, he did not have the
benefit of any defence counsel. He said he is illiterate and
therefore the opportunity given to him for cross examination
of witnesses was only a "lip service" to his rights.
Judge Gauba observed that the record of trial court did
not indicate that the questions, which were prepared in
English, were explained to the accused in Hindi.