The High Court noted that right to cross-examine cannot be taken away
Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo
The High Court of Karnataka has held that an accused can claim the right to cross-examine a complainant even though he defaulted by non-depositing of interim compensation.
“The right to cross-examine is a valuable right. A case cannot be closed, denying cross-examination of the complainant by the accused particularly on the ground that the accused has not deposited the interim compensation amount,” the court said.
Murali of Hohalli village, Kolar, and Venkateshappa, Kilaripet, Kolar, had a money transaction. Murali’s cheque for Rs 10 lakh was dishonoured, leading to a criminal case.
The Magistrate Court had ordered Murali to deposit 10 per cent of the amount as compensation pending trial, but he did not. Therefore, the Magistrate Court did not allow his application for cross-examination of Venkateshapp.
Murali approached the High Court. The court ruled in favour of Murali and said, “The learned Magistrate has grossly erred denying cross-examination making it subject to the payment of 10% of interim compensation as was ordered on January 10, 2022.”
The Magistrate had followed the judgement of another Bench of the High Court in the Ravi Vs AN Moggannagowda case. However, Justice M Nagarprasanna, in his judgement on August 25, held that this was contrary to the apex court judgement in the Noor Mohammed Vs Khurram Pasha case.
After extensively quoting the SC judgement, the High Court said, “The apex court clearly holds that if interim compensation is not paid, it can be recovered as fine.”
The High Court noted that right to cross-examine cannot be taken away. “It is trite law that a right to cross-examine is a valuable right of the accused. Such a valuable right cannot be taken away by making it subject to payment of interim compensation for which a remedy is available in the statute itself. Such remedy that is available under the statute must be accordingly exercised,” it said.
Allowing Murali to cross-examine Venkateshappa in the trial, the High Court said, “The reason rendered by the learned Magistrate is on the face of it erroneous. The accused has to be given an opportunity to cross-examine by allowing the application so filed by the petitioner, which would be the last opportunity to the petitioner to cross-examine or further cross-examine, as the case would be.”