In a recent case, the Supreme Court observed that a general allegation of a surcharged atmosphere could not be termed sufficient for the purposes of transferring a trial from one Court to another.
While dismissing the transfer petition in question, the Court observed that transfer of a trial from one State to another State would reflect on the credibility of the State’s judiciary, and exceptions can only be made in cases where there is a clear situation of deprivation of fair justice.
A transfer petition was filed by one Jatinderveer Arora and others wherein they sought that the criminal cases pending before Courts at Moga, Faridkot and Bhatinda should be transferred to a Court in Delhi or any other State, out of Punjab.
Contentions raised before the Court.
The petitioners argued that as the cases relate to sacrilege of holy book, Shri Guru Granth Sahib, there was deep anguish and bitterness amongst a particular religious group, who form the majority of the population in Punjab, so the accused who belong to Dera Sacha Sauda sect are facing prejudice and bias and will not get a fair trial.
It was further argued that the situation in different places, especially Bhatinda was communally surcharged and they will not get a fair trial.
Observation of the Court:
Hon’ble Justice Roy noted that if their threat perceptions were genuine, they could not have about their regular routine and the Court opined that the atmosphere of the State does not justify shifting of the Trial.
Referring to the Scope of power of the Court to transfer a trial, the Bench remarked that powers u/s 406 CrPc should be exercised sparingly.
The Court clarified that a general allegation of a surcharged atmosphere was not sufficient for transferring of a case and that the reasons for transferring should have some substance.
According to the Court, if the Courts can function without getting influenced by the public sentiment, then there was no need to shift the Trial.
The Court should look at the convenience of all the parties and not just the party which is seeking transfer:
While dismissing the transfer petition, the Court opined that it has to look at the convenience of other parties as well like the prosecution, the witnesses and the complainant and where possible, the Trial should be conducted in the Court that has the jurisdiction.
Title: Jatinderveer Arora vs the State of Punjab
Case No: Transfer Petition Crl. No. 452 of 2019
Date of Order: 25.10.2020
Coram: Hon’ble Justice Hrishikesh Roy