A citizen’s freedom cannot be taken away, the Supreme Court said in overturning an order from the High Court of Punjab and Haryana that dismissed a plea filed by a man on the grounds that his lawyer was absent in four times during the hearing.
The High Court observed that the High Court had “manifestly erred” in rejecting the default review and that it should have appointed another lawyer as an amicus curiae to assist it in the case relating to the conviction under the law on weapons.
“The High Court, in our view, manifestly erred in rejecting the default review on the grounds that appellant’s counsel had been absent on the previous four occasions,” said a bench led by Judge DY Chandrachud.
“Since the High Court review arose out of a sentencing order under the Weapons Act, the High Court should have appointed an amicus curiae in the absence of a lawyer, who was engaged by Legal Services Authority, Rohtak. a citizen’s freedom cannot be taken away in this way, ”said the bench, also including judges Indu Malhotra and Indira Banerjee, in its order of 16 November.
The superior court allowed the man’s appeal and quashed the February 11 and July 16 orders of the high court.
On February 11, the High Court rejected the plea filed by the man challenging his conviction, stating that “a reading of the file shows that this review has been taken into account six times, including today. On four occasions, none have come forward to represent the petitioner in the space of about a year and four months. Therefore, it can be inferred that the petitioner or his lawyer is no longer interested in pursuing this review. Dismissed for lack of prosecution. “
Later, on July 16, the High Court dismissed the request for reinstatement of the plea saying that no grounds for reinstatement had been established.
The man, through his lawyer MK Ghosh, had contacted the high court against the high court order.
He was convicted of the offense punishable under the Weapons Act by a lower court in January 2015 and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
A first instance court upheld his conviction in July 2017, after which he moved to the high court.
During the course of his plea in the High Court, he was released on bail in April 2018.
The superior court, while setting aside the orders of the high court, restored its review.
“Since during the period of the request for special leave the appellant was admitted on bail by this court and the appellant was free on bail during the period pending review in the High Court, the order extending the appellant on bail will remain in effect. pending the disposition of the review by the High Court. The appellant must cooperate with the disposition of the review, ”said the bench.