NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said a public prosecutor plays an important role in the prosecution of criminal cases and was not expected to adopt a causal approach in acceding to a plea for concessions sought by an accused.
An apex court bench of justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and N.V. Ramana said this while expressing "extreme displeasure" at the manner in which a public prosecutor consented to a plea by an accused convicted of kidnapping and rape for direction to the Rajasthan government to commute his sentence.
"Before closing, we must express our extreme displeasure about the manner in which the public prosecutor made a concession in the high court.
"Firstly, the offence is grave and in such grave offence, the public prosecutor ought not to have made a concession that the court should direct the government to commute the sentence," Justice Desai said while pronouncing the judgment.
"It is distressing to note that in such a serious case, the public prosecutor has shown such a casual approach," the court said in its recent judgment.
In the instant case, Mohammed Muslim Tagala, Sabena and Mohd Daud were tried by a fast track court in Sikar for offences of kidnapping, procuration of minor girl, rape, attempt to murder and abetment.
The fast track court by its June 11, 2008, order acquitted Sabena and Mohd Daud but convicted Tagala for various offences with varying terms of sentence, the maximum being seven years for committing rape.
Having expressed its displeasure over the conduct of the public prosecutor, the apex court also pulled up the high court for passing an order directing the Rajasthan government to commute the sentence of Tagala.
When the government commutes a sentence, the court said it does so in exercise of its sovereign powers and the court cannot direct the government to exercise its sovereign powers.
"The court can merely give a direction to the appropriate government to consider the case for commutation of sentence and nothing more. This legal position is no more res integra," the judgment said.
Holding that the high court could have only directed the Rajasthan government to consider Tagala's case for commutation of sentence, the apex court said: "In any case, assuming the high court could have given such a direction, since it was dealing with a conviction under Section 376 of the IPC (punishment for rape), it should have noted the extraordinary circumstances, if any, which persuaded it to give such a direction."
Unfortunately, the apex court said the high court merely noted the request made by the counsel for Tagala and the concession made by the Rajasthan government's public prosecutor.
"If the high court felt that the prosecution case was extremely weak and the respondent deserved to be acquitted, it should have discussed the evidence and acquitted him. But, it could not have adopted such a course," the apex court said while faulting its direction to the Rajasthan government to commute the sentence.
However, the apex court left the matter without precipitating it further as the Rajasthan government had not acted on the direction of the high court and had instead moved the apex court challenging it and during this period Tagala had already undergone his sentence and was released from custody.
"Since the appeal has become infructuous, we do not want to precipitate the matter further. We only hope that these observations of ours are taken note of by all concerned," the Supreme Court said as it disposed off the Rajasthan government's appeal as infructuous.