When the judge frames any charge against the accused, the charge shall be read and explained to the accused and the accused shall be asked whether he pleads guilty of the offence or claims to be tried. The Court should follow the provisions of Sections 211 to 224 of the Code regarding the form of charge and joinder of charges.
(ii) Right of accused to be tried in accused’s presence:
The trial should be in the personal presence of the accused to enable him to understand properly the prosecution case as it is unfolded in the Court. The Magistrate trying the case as per Section 205(2) of the Code, may, in his discretion at any stage of the proceedings, direct the personal attendance of the accused, and if necessary, enforce such attendance in a manner provided in the Code.
However, according to Section 205(1) of the Code, whenever a Magistrate issues a summons, he may, if he sees reason so to do, dispense with the personal attendance of the accused and permit him to appear by his pleader.
Further, Section 317 of the Code provides that at any stage of trial, if the Judge or Magistrate is satisfied for reasons to be recorded, that the personal attendance of the accused before the Court is not necessary in the interests of justice, or that the accused persistently disturbs the proceedings in Court, the judge or Magistrate may, if the accused is represented by a pleader, dispense with his attendance and proceed with such trial in his absence, and may at any subsequent stage of the proceedings, direct the personal attendance of such accused. If the accused in any such case is not represented by a pleader, or if the Judge or Magistrate considers his personal attendance necessary, he may, if he thinks fit and for reason to be recorded by him, either adjourn such trial, or order the case of such accused be taken up or tried separately.
(iii) Right to be taken evidence in presence of accused:
According to Section 273 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, except as otherwise expressly provided, all evidence taken in the Court of the trial or other proceeding shall be taken in the presence of the accused or, when his personal attendance is dispensed with, in the presence of his pleader.
As per Section 278(1) of the Code, as the evidence of each witness taken is completed, it shall be read over to the witness in the presence of the accused if in attendance, or of his pleader, if he appears by pleader, and shall, if necessary, be corrected.
Further, Section 279(1) of the Code provides that whenever any evidence is given in a language not understood by the accused, and he is present in Court in person, it shall be interpreted to him in open Court in a language understood by him.
If the accused person is of unsound mind and unable to understand the proceedings, the Court should follow special provisions of Sections 328-339 to deal with such a situation.
According to Section 318 of the Code, if the accused, though not of unsound mind, cannot be made to understand the proceedings as he is deaf and dumb or a foreigner not knowing the language of the Court and no interpreter is available, the Court may proceed with the inquiry or trial and in the case of Court other than a High Court, if such proceedings result in a conviction, the proceedings shall be forwarded to the High Court with a report of the circumstances of the case, and the High Court shall pass thereon such order as it thinks fit.
(iv) Right to cross-examine prosecution witnesses:
The Magistrate, as per Section 244 of the Code may, in his discretion give the accused an opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution witnesses, if they should so desire, even though the charge may not be framed, but the accused cannot claim as of right to cross-examine until the charge has been framed. According to Section 246 of the Code, the accused has the right to recalling and cross-examining the witnesses for the prosecution after the charge is framed.
(v) Right of accused to offer evidence in defence:
Section 243 of the Code provides that the accused shall be called upon to enter upon his defence and produce his evidence; and if the accused puts in any written statement, the Magistrate shall file it with the record. When the accused is not discharged, as per Section 247 of the Code, the accused shall be called upon to enter upon his defence and produce his evidence.
The accused has right to produce evidence in defence though the burden of proving the guilt is entirely on the prosecution and though the law does not require the accused to lead evidence to prove his innocence. It has been held that the refusal without any legal justification by a Magistrate to issue process to the witnesses named by the accused person is enough to vitiate the trial.
(vi) Right to speedy trial:
According to Section 309(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in every trial, the proceedings shall be held as expeditiously as possible, and in particular, when the examination of witnesses has once begun, the same shall be continued from day to day until all the witnesses in attendance have been examined, unless the Court finds the adjournment of the same beyond the following day to be necessary for reasons to be recorded. Speedy trial is imbibed in Section 309 of the Code.
Where the accused is not released on bail during the pendency of the trial, it is not a fair trial if it is inordinately delayed.
No procedure which does not ensure a reasonable quick trial can be regarded as reasonable, fair or just and it would fall of Article 21 of the Constitution of India and by speedy trial, it would mean reasonably expeditious trial which is an integral and essential part of the fundamental right to life and liberty.
Speedy trial is an essential ingredient of ‘reasonable, fair and just’ procedure guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution, the accused has a right for speedy trial and it is the constitutional obligation of the State to ensure speedy trial to the accused. However, the Court cannot quash a trial on the ground alleging denial of speedy trial.
The Supreme Court has observed that the policy of law that the criminal cases should be disposed of with the least possible delay. The Apex Court has also held that a speedy trial, which means reasonably expeditious trial, is an integral and essential part of fundamental right to life and liberty enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
When the accused person is in jail custody, it is absolutely essential that he should be speedily tried so that the accused has not to remain in jail longer than is absolutely necessary. If the prosecution is kept pending for an indefinite period or for a very long time, important evidence may be obliterated by mere lapse of time.
A delayed trial is not necessarily an unfair trial. Sometimes, the delay may be occasioned by the tactic or conduct of the accused.
The fundamental right to a speedy trial does not require that in the case of capital offences, the right to speedy trial should be concretised by fixing any time limit.