Man Acquitted After 9 Years, Upholding the Principle of “Audi Alteram Partem” Despite Vitiating Trial Proceedings

In a recent judgment, the division judge bench of the Patna High Court emphasized the significance of a fair trial and the principle of audi alteram partem in criminal proceedings. The case involved the conviction of an appellant for murder, but upon careful consideration of the facts and contentions presented by both parties, the court acquitted the appellant and highlighted the necessity of ensuring a fair chance for the accused to defend themselves.

The court acknowledged that the sole purpose of introducing incriminating materials to an accused is to elicit their response and guarantee them the opportunity to present their defense. This principle, known as audi alteram partem, is rooted in the fundamental principles of justice and fairness. It ensures that both the prosecution and the defense have equal opportunities to present their arguments and evidence.

In this particular case, the contentions of the appellant centered around the credibility of the witnesses and the presentation of incriminating circumstances. The appellant argued that each witness had a direct connection to the deceased, raising doubts about the possibility of their prepared statements. Additionally, the appellant contended that the place of the occurrence was not adequately proven. Furthermore, they argued that no incriminating circumstances were put forward to allow them to explain their defense effectively.

On the other hand, the state maintained that although the witnesses did not explicitly state their direct observation of the assault, the way they described the events left little doubt that they all witnessed the incident from varying distances. The state also argued that motive might not be the sole determining factor in a criminal case, as the offender is likely the only one who can provide clarity on their motivation. Moreover, they emphasized the importance of presenting incriminating materials to the accused as per Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

In its observations, the court acknowledged the crucial role played by the motive behind the commission of the crime. The prosecution was found to have overlooked this important aspect and failed to properly establish the motive behind the act of murder. The court stressed that motive should never be taken for granted and should be logically pursued throughout the trial proceedings.

Furthermore, the court highlighted the well-established nature of Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. It clarified that the purpose of presenting incriminating evidence to the accused is to allow them to respond and refute the allegations made against them. This ensures that the principles of audi alteram partem are respected, and the accused is given a fair chance to defend themselves.

Drawing upon relevant precedents in its judgment, the court determined that the trial proceedings were flawed and thus acquitted the appellant of the murder charge. The decision reaffirms the importance of upholding the principles of a fair trial and the principle of audi alteram partem in criminal proceedings.

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