Allahabad High Court Recommends Action Against Judicial Magistrate Over Ineffective Trial Procedures

Allahabad High Court recommends action against Judicial Magistrate for inefficiencies in trial procedures in a case under Essential Commodities Act.

The Allahabad High Court recommended action against a Judicial Magistrate for failing to ensure the presence of accused in a case under the Essential Commodities Act. In the case of Vishwanath Agarwal and another vs. State of U.P. and others, Justice Prashant Kumar criticized the trial's slow progress since May 2018. Despite the accused not appearing, only summons were issued without further coercive measures.

"In spite of the fact that the applicants has not appeared before the trial court, the concerned Court below did not take any effective steps to get the summons served or to issue bailable warrants or non-bailable warrants for ensuring the appearance of the accused persons (applicants herein). Further perusal of order sheets does not reflect that either the summons were served upon the applicants or not and in case, the summons were served, what action the Court has taken against them," stated the Court.

The High Court emphasized its circulars to Judicial Magistrates for expediting criminal trials, lamenting that the trial judge in this case neglected to follow these instructions, displaying a careless attitude towards summons service.

"The attitude of the trial court is absolutely callous in nature and I am of the view that suitable directions shall be issued to curb such practice. This matter needs to be placed before the Hon'ble Administrative Judge of the concerned district for information and necessary action," the Court declared.

Consequently, the Registrar (Compliance) was ordered to provide a copy of the order to the Administrative Judge of Siddharth Nagar district.

The case involved a petition filed by the accused seeking to quash proceedings in a criminal case dating back to 2017. The accused operated a petrol lubricants retail outlet, and after a 2017 inspection, a shortage of 50 ml out of 5 litres was found. The accused argued no offenses were established, and the trial court failed to recognize the lack of a prima facie case.

However, the prosecution contended that the accused were rightfully summoned.

The Court dismissed the petition, noting that the arguments pertained to disputed questions of fact beyond its jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

"The facts as alleged cannot be said that, prima facie, no offence is made out against the applicants. It is only after the evidence and trial, it can be seen as to whether the offence, as alleged, has been committed or not," the Court concluded.

Advocates Abhisek Rai, Hanuman Prasad Dube, and Vipul Dube represented the petitioners, while Advocate SD Pandey represented the State.