Judges can`t act as mere tape recorders: SC

Observing that judges cannot act "like mere tape recorders" and government has a duty to protect witnesses, the Supreme Court Wednesday transferred the murder trial of an engineer from Uttarakhand to a Delhi court.

Last Updated: Jan 12, 2011, 21:04 PM IST

New Delhi: Observing that judges cannot act
"like mere tape recorders" and government has a duty to protect
witnesses, the Supreme Court Wednesday transferred the murder
trial of an engineer, allegedly shot dead by a contractors`
mafia, from Uttarakhand to a Delhi court.

A bench of justices JM Panchal and HL Gokhale passed
the order on a petition filed by Vikas Kumar Roorkewal, son of
the deceased Radhey Shyam, a Superintendent Engineer with
Uttarakhand Irrigation Department, who sought the transfer on
the ground that the family and witnesses were facing constant
threats and intimidation from the accused.

Shyam, who was dealing with Rs 240-crore Upper Ganga
Link Canal Project, was shot dead in broad daylight on June
18, 2006, at his camp office in Roorkee in front Roorkewal and
other witnesses.

The case was pending trial in a Fast Track court,
Haridwar, since 2006. The deceased`s son alleged a number of
other engineers too were earlier murdered by the mafia who had
let loose a reign of terror.

It was stated that the witnesses and the family
members of Shyam were facing constant threats and even the
driver of the deceased, who was a key prosecution witness, had
turned hostile during the trial. According to the deceased`s
son, though they have made several representations to the
authorities and the trial court concerned, no action was taken
to protect the witnesses.

Accepting the plea, Justice Panchal, writing the
judgement, said "the necessity of a fair trial hardly needs
emphasis. The state has a definite role to play in protecting
the witnesses, to start with at least in sensitive cases.”

"The learned judge has failed to take participatory
role in the trial. He was not expected to act like a mere tape
recorder to record whatever had been stated by the witnesses,"
the bench said.

PTI