Trials Can Be Transferred Only In Exceptional Cases: SC
The Supreme Court denied a petition to transfer a case out of West Bengal, saying the power to transfer cases should be utilized sparingly and only when justice appears to be in grave danger.
Points to Ponder:
- under a recent decision, the Supreme Court of India ruled that criminal cases under trial should only be transferred from one state to another under exceptional circumstances.
- The court denied a request to move a murder case from West Bengal to Assam, holding that the authority to transfer cases under Section 406 of the Code of Criminal Procedure should be utilized sparingly and only when justice appears to be in grave danger.
- The judgment summarised various apex court verdicts indicating situations in which an ongoing trial could be transferred, such as when the State or prosecution is working hand in hand with the accused, when the accused may influence prosecution witnesses when comparative inconvenience and hardships are likely to be caused to the accused, and when there is a communally charged atmosphere indicating some proof of inability to hold a fair and impartial trial.
- The convenience of the parties and witnesses, as well as the language they speak, may also be considered when deciding on a transfer petition.
- The court praised the judiciary’s participation in the case, adding that justice should not only be done but also clearly and unmistakably shown to be done.
- In 2019, a political worker named Kurban Sha was shot in Purba Medinipur, West Bengal. The victim’s family had petitioned the Supreme Court to move the trial to Assam, claiming that a fair trial would be impossible in West Bengal.
- The West Bengal state government instructed the public prosecutor to discontinue the prosecution against the defendants in 2021, but the Calcutta High Court intervened and overturned the government notification. The trial judge also denied bail to the accused after the victim’s relatives and witnesses reported threats.
- More than 90 witnesses, the most of whom are Bengalis, have yet to be interrogated in the case, and moving them would be difficult logistically.