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Indian Case Summary

Mohd. Hussain @ Julfikar Ali vs The State (Govt. Of Nct) Delhi on 31 August, 2012 – Case Summary

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In the case of Mohd. Hussain @ Julfikar Ali vs The State (Govt. Of NCT) Delhi on 31 August, 2012, the Supreme Court of India was called upon to decide whether the matter required to be remanded for a de novo trial in accordance with law or not. The case was presided over by a bench consisting of R.M. Lodha, Anil R. Dave, and Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya.

Facts of the Case

The case arose from an incident that occurred on 30th December 1997, when a Blueline Bus carrying passengers from Ajmeri Gate to Nangloi stopped at Rampura Bus Stand at Rohtak Road. As the bus stopped, an explosion took place inside the bus, resulting in the death of four persons and injury to twenty-four others. The police filed a charge-sheet against four accused persons, one of them being the present appellant, a national of Pakistan, for the commission of offences under Sections 302/307/120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 3 and 4 of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908.

Issues in the Case

The primary issue in the case was whether the appellant was denied due process of law and whether the conduct of the trial was contrary to the procedure prescribed under the provisions of the Code. The appellant pleaded not guilty to the charges framed against him and claimed to be tried. Sixty-five witnesses were examined by the prosecution. On conclusion of the prosecution evidence, the statement of the appellant under Section 313 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 was recorded.

Court’s Observations and Decision

The court observed that the appellant was not provided the assistance of a counsel in a substantial and meaningful sense. The court held that the appellant was denied the assistance of a counsel in substantial and meaningful manner in the course of trial although necessity of counsel was vital and imperative and that resulted in denial of due process of law. The court further held that the appellant has been put to prejudice rendering the impugned judgments unsustainable in law.

The court was divided on the course to be adopted after it was held that the conviction and sentence awarded to the appellant by the trial court and confirmed by the High Court were vitiated. One judge ordered the matter to be remanded to the trial court for fresh disposal in accordance with law after providing to the appellant the assistance of the counsel before the commencement of the trial till its conclusion if the accused was unable to engage a counsel of his own choice. On the other hand, another judge held that the incident occurred in 1997; the appellant was awarded the sentence of death more than seven years ago and at such distance of time it shall be travesty of justice to direct for the appellant’s de novo trial.

The case was a significant one as it highlighted the importance of providing legal aid to the accused and ensuring a fair trial. It also brought to the fore the issue of delay in the judicial process and its impact on the accused. The case underscored the need for striking a balance between the rights of the accused and the interests of justice.