Considering that unlike cases under the Code of Civil Procedure, there is no provision under the CrPC or the Negotiable Instruments Act to try cases ex parte, the Karnataka High Court has suggested amendments to the latter.
”The legislature must think of bringing suitable amendments to Code of Criminal Procedure or to the special law to enable the court to conduct the proceedings in the absence of the accused. The amendment, perhaps, may deter unscrupulous elements who would resort to avoiding service of summons or execution of warrant against them,” the HC said in a recent judgement.
One G H Abdul Kadri was sentenced by the Judicial Magistrate First Class, Udupi, in 2018 under six criminal cases under the Negotiable Instruments Act as cheques issued by him in connection with a loan were dishonoured for want of sufficient funds in his account. A sessions court in Udupi upheld the sentence.
Kadri approached the HC with six revision petitions challenging the lower court orders. He contended that the trial was conducted in his absence and the judgement passed in absentia.
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Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar who heard the petitions, in a common judgement on May 24, noted that Kadri had not received the summons.
The trial court in the normal course should have issued his warrant and then proclamation for securing his presence. But instead, it conducted the criminal proceedings ex parte.
Noting that it was a ‘blatant error’, the HC said, ”There is no provision for keeping an accused ex parte similar to the one found in Code of Civil Procedure.” The court then went on to suggest that if for any reason the presence of accused in relation to offences under special laws, including the Negotiable Instruments Act, is to be recorded in the absence of the accused ”law requires to be amended”.
The HC set aside the judgement of the lower court in Kadri’s cases and all the six cases were remanded back to the magistrate court in Udupi for fresh disposal. Kadri was ordered to pay Rs 2,000 to the complainant in each case.
The lower court was directed to expedite the trial proceedings.