Madurai: It was imperative for trial courts to
explain to an accused the offences under which he or she is
booked and give reasonable time to plead guilty or not guilty
when he or she appeared in court in response to summons or
produced by police, the Madras High Court has held.
The observation was made by Justice KBK Vasuki while
setting aside the conviction as well as the punishment imposed
on a married couple by Tiruvallur Judicial Magistrate on March
14, 2007 on the basis of their supposed confession on the same
day in a case registered under Sec.75 (Penalty for drunkenness
or riotous or indecent behaviour) of the Madras Police Act.
In their revision petition, the couple contended they were
sentenced without even being produced before the Magistrate.
Also, neither the case document was provided to them nor an
opportunity given to engage a lawyer to argue the case
registered by police.
The case was registered by the Pattambiram Police in
Chennai outskirts on a complaint lodged by a woman, who was
"inimical" to them due to some dispute, the petitioners said.
Allowing the petition, Justice Vasuki said "In this case,
the couple were not given time. The serious allegations raised
on the side of the learned counsel for the Petitioners has
full force of law and the entire proceedings are liable to be
vitiated for violation of Sec 251 (Magistrate to state
Substance of offence to the accused) of the Code of Criminal
The Judge remitted the case back to the Magistrate for
retrial which should be concluded in three months.
She also set aside the penalty of Rs.500 imposed on the
two petitioners as well as the order to undergo simplement
imprisonment of two weeks in case of failure to pay the fine
and ordered refund of the amount.