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Trial Judge bound to summon defence witnesses unless it vexes, delays or defeats justice: Kerala High Court

The Kerala High Court examined the question of whether a Trial Judge could refuse to summon certain witnesses sought to be examined by an accused in criminal trials. (Antony Rosario Fernando v. State of Kerala). A Bench comprising of Justice VG Arun emphasized that a trial judge is bound to issue process for the examination of a witness, since the same was a facet of the right to a fair trial. “… the court is bound to issue process for compelling the attendance of witnesses, unless the court is of the opinion that the application for summoning the witnesses ought to be refused on the ground that it is made for the purpose of vexation or delay or for defeating the ends of justice”, reads the order. The right to a fair trial included opportunities for the accused to prove his innocence, of which adducing evidence was a part, he explained. A denial of the opportunity would be to deny fair trial, the Court notes in its order. “The adversarial system confers the accused with the indefeasible right to cross examine the prosecution witnesses and to let in defence evidence. This indefeasible right cannot be denied lightly”, the Court underscored.

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