Sec. 317 of Cr.P.C
The substantive part of criminal law is dealt with by the Indian Penal Code,1860 while the procedural part is dealt with by the Code of Criminal Procedure,1973. Thus, the provisions regarding the presence of an accused during a criminal trial are laid down in the Code of Criminal Procedure. Going by the ideals of a ‘fair trial’ an accused should be present at the proceedings as it will give him a chance to clarify his point whenever the prosecution is taking the case to the wrong side. However, the Code of Criminal Procedure does not make the presence of an accused mandatory at a criminal proceeding.
Sec. 317of Cr.P.C reads as follows:
“Provision for inquiries and trial being held in the absence of accused in certain cases:
(1) At any stage of an inquiry or trial under this Code, 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 interest 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 inquiry or trial in his absence, and may, at any subsequent stage of the proceedings, direct the personal attendance of such accused.
(2) 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 reasons to be recorded by him, either adjourn such inquiry or trial, or order that the case of such accused be taken up or tried separately.”
Section 273 of the Code lays down that all the evidence should be admitted in the Court in the presence of the accused and if the accused is excused from the attendance in the Court, then his pleader must be present at the proceedings. While Section 205 of the CrPC lays down that the magistrate may dispense with personal attendance of an accused. A magistrate can allow the accused to be represented by a pleader and the same magistrate can later call upon the pleader before the Court as and when he desires.
Indian courts have generally adopted a generous approach in granting exemption to the accused. In the case of Halen Rubber Industries v. The State of Kerala,(1972) it was held that in all trivial and technical cases involving women, elderly, sickly, daily wage workers, factory workers, business people or industrialists should be excused from their attendance in the court. The Hon’ble Court held that one should exercise discretion liberally in such types of cases.
The Court also takes into consideration the hardships caused due to travel to the court on an almost daily basis. Exemptions have been granted to the people working abroad and being accused in India.
We have ensured that an accused has certain rights. By providing the right of exemption we have ensured that we live up to the spirit of ‘innocent until proven guilty.’ The Courts have tried to strike a balance between the rights of an accused and a victim by adopting two kinds of approaches while dealing with an application for exemption. The rules regarding power of attorney have been laid down and it appears that when it comes to legal proceedings, a power of attorney does not have many rights.