It is irrefutable fact that every democratic country is regulated by Law. Law provides rights to the citizens and those rights can be bifurcated into two categories i.e. Fundamental Rights and Civil Rights. In India, Fundamental Rights have been defined in the Constitution of India which is also called Grundnorm and all the civil rights are inferior to fundamental rights because in violation of fundamental rights a person can stand in the highest court of land whereas in case of breach of civil rights the same has to approach the lowest court.
Now the question arises whether the law imposes duty upon lower courts (Trial courts) to protect the fundamental rights of the person as well?
The answer is Yes in absolute terms when there is misuse of process of law. This issue came before the Apex court in the case Kishan lal Chawla versus State of U.P. criminal appeal number 283 of 2021. The Hon'ble Supreme Court clearly retreated that As aforesaid, the trial courts and the Magistrates have an important role in curbing this injustice. They are the first lines of defence for both the integrity of the criminal justice system, and the harassed and distraught litigant.
We are of the considered opinion that the trial courts have the power to not merely decide on acquittal or conviction of the accused person after the trial, but also the duty to nip frivolous litigations in the bud even before they reach the stage of trial by discharging the accused in fit cases.
This would not only save judicial time that comes at the cost of public money, but would also protect the right to liberty that every person is entitled to under Article 21 of the Constitution. In this context, the trial Judges have as much, if not more, responsibility in safeguarding the fundamental rights of the citizens of India as the highest court of this land.
Therefore, the time has now been started to understand the raising the issue of breach of fundamental rights at the lowest level rather to approach the constitutional courts first.