The Supreme Court has allowed a plea by the Karnataka government to recall a witness in the 2008 Bengaluru serial blasts case to authenticate seized devices, saying a fair trial in a criminal case does not mean that it should be fair to one of the parties.
A bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Rajesh Bindal said the object of a fair trial is that no guilty should go scot-free and no innocent should be punished.
The court set aside the High Court and the trial court’s orders, rejecting its plea to recall a witness M Krishna, assistant government examiner, Computer Forensic Division, CFSL, a prosecution witness to produce a certificate under Section 65-B of the Indian Evidence Act related to seized electronic devices.
“A certificate under Section 65-B of the Act, sought to be produced is not an evidence which has been created now. It is meeting the requirement of law to prove a report on record. Permitting the prosecution to produce the certificate under Section 65-B of the Act at this stage will not result in any irreversible prejudice to the accused. The accused will have full opportunity to rebut the evidence led by the prosecution,” the bench said.
Referring to Section 311 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the bench said the object is to arrive at the truth and this can be invoked to subserve the cause of justice and public interest.
“In the case in hand, this exercise of power is required to uphold the truth, as no prejudice as such is going to be caused to the accused,” the bench said.
The bench agreed with a contention by Additional Advocate General Aman Panwar that the primary evidence in the form of electronic devices was already on record along with the report from CFSL.
It is only because the accused raised an objection to the production of that report and did not take any chances, that the prosecution filed an application under Section 311 CrPC to resummon M Krishna and produce the certificate under Section 65-B of the Act in evidence, he said.
Advocate Balaji Srinivasan, appearing for the respondent accused, submitted that there was no error in the orders passed by the trial court and the High Court.
“The prosecution cannot be allowed to fill up the lacuna in the evidence by filing an application under Section 311 of the CrPC. The certificate was sought to be produced after a delay of six years. Hence, it was rightly not permitted to be produced on record. Great prejudice shall be caused to the respondents now if it is permitted and they will be deprived of their right of fair trial,” he said.
(Published 08 November 2023, 23:43 IST)