A Delhi Court has observed that on the grounds of personal engagement, no counsel is supposed to expect the court to work according to their personal diary.
Additional Sessions Judge Pulastya Pramachala was hearing a case related to the 2020 northeast Delhi riots registered by the Dayalpur police station against accused Akil Ahmed and others.
The court noted that a constable was to be cross-examined as a prosecution witness on behalf of the accused but the advocates concerned, present in the court, sought deferment, saying the main counsel had gone to Lucknow to attend a marriage ceremony.
Underlining that the dates for the proceedings were already announced and the accused persons were expected to come prepared to examine the relevant witness, the court said the plea for deferment was “not acceptable”.
“On the grounds of personal engagement, no counsel is supposed to expect the court to work as per their personal diary in the cases. Unfortunately, no explanation has been given for the non-representation of accused Akil Ahmed by the counsels yesterday and in any case, if defence counsel is bent upon acting as per their sweet will, same cannot be acceptable to the court,” ASJ Pramachala said in an order passed on Tuesday.
The judge said the duty cast upon the court is to provide a fair and reasonable opportunity to the accused to cross-examine a witness.
“Accused in this case informed yesterday itself that he is well aware of Legal Aid Scheme as well, but he had taken the option to pursue his case through the counsel of his choice and despite the warning given to him yesterday, he has failed to ensure that prosecution witness 16 (the Constable) is to be cross-examined on his behalf by the counsel of his choice,” he said.
In these circumstances, the opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution witness is closed because it is an option consciously taken by this accused not to cross-examine this witness despite being given repeated opportunities for today, the judge said.