SC deprecates delay in filing of original testimonies of witnesses, suggests change in rules

NewsDrum Desk
09 Nov 2023
New Update

New Delhi, Nov 9 (PTI) The Supreme Court Thursday deprecated the practice of delayed filing of original copy of testimonies of key witnesses in criminal appeals involving life term or death penalty and suggested change in apex court rules to enable filing of soft copies of such statements.


A bench of justices Abhay S Oka and Sanjay Karol was deciding criminal appeals of two persons in a case.

The top court upheld the trial court and the Kerala High Court judgements awarding life term to accused Sajeev and Roy under various provisions of the IPC including section 302 (murder).

Sajeev died after the top court reserved the verdict and, consequently, the conviction and the punishment against him stood abated.


The offence related to alcohol poisoning, resulting in the death of seven people, blindness in 11 and more than 40 people sustaining injuries in Kerala in 2003.

While upholding the conviction, the bench noted with anguish the delay caused in hearing the appeals in the Supreme Court on account of belated filing of original copies of the testimonies of prime witnesses in heinous criminal cases.

“Before parting with the present appeals, we deem it appropriate to deprecate the practice of depositions of material witnesses not being placed on record, as recorded in our order dated 20.07.2023.


“We have observed that such practices often cause repeated adjournments, which goes to the root of pendency and delay in disposing of appeals. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to provide suggestions in tackling this issue,” said Justice Oka in the 32-page judgement.

The bench referred to the Supreme Court Rules, 2013 which deal with criminal appeals.

“A perusal of sub-Rules 2 & 3 of Rule 5 thereof shows that physical copies of the original records are to be called for, in criminal appeals involving sentence of life or the death penalty. In all other cases, the calling of such records is subject to specific orders of a Bench of this Court,” it said.


The bench then suggested amendments to enable filing of soft copies of such documents and directed that the copy of the judgement be placed before Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud for consideration.

“We suggest the following: i. Sub-Rule 3 be amended to insert the words ‘soft copy’ before the words ‘original records’, resulting in e-copies of the Original Records being requisitioned. This would facilitate a much quicker availability of such records to the court as also further a more environmentally conscious approach,” it said.

It also suggested that by making necessary amendments to the Rules, such requisition of soft copy of the record can be extended to cases where leave is granted against an order of acquittal or conviction.

“Such soft copy of the records, once received be provided to the learned counsel appearing for the parties,” it said, adding “We direct the Registry to place a copy of this judgment before Hon’ble Chief Justice of India for his kind consideration and appropriate directions, should he deem fit.” PTI SJK SJK SK SK