The present article witnesses the arguments held by the parties before the Supreme Court and wherein it answers as to the the private counsel of victim can examine witnesses and make arguments.
The Bench of Justices Mohan M Shantanagoudar and Deepak Gupta, in the present case, upheld the decision of the Calcutta High Court that dismissed the plea of the petitioner seeking permission for her private pleader to cross-examine witnesses.
The Court further highlighted that a private pleader engaged by a victim is subject to the directions of the Public Prosecutor in the same way that a private party's Counsel is and held,
"A victim’s counsel should ordinarily not be given the right to make oral arguments or examine and crossexamine witnesses. As stated in Section 301(2), the private party’s pleader is subject to the directions of the Public Prosecutor. In our considered opinion, the same principle should apply to the victim’s counsel under the proviso to Section 24(8)"
The Apex Court referring to the decision of the Tripura High Court in the case Uma Sahavs Tripura, the Court underscored that the scope of a private counsel is limited to the extent that he may not assist the prosecutor as regards questions and points that may have been missed but cannot pose the questions to witnesses by himself.
"Uma Saha v. State of Tripura (supra) that the victim’s counsel has a limited right of assisting the prosecution, which may extend to suggesting questions to the Court or the prosecution, but not putting them by himself."
This, the Court further said, is in light of the possibility of the Counsel making way of his questions through the Judge should he feel that the Prosecutor has not conducted the examination properly or incorporated his suggestions. If the Judge finds merit in his concern, then the Judge may take appropriate recourse by invoking his power under Section 311 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
The Court, therefore, dismissed the appeal and upheld the decision of the High Court and the Supreme Court, highest court of record, held that a private pleader engaged by a victim in a criminal trial only has the limited right of assisting the prosecutor and may not make oral arguments or conduct cross-examination of witnesses. This was the crux of the matter which was dealt in the present case.