In the case of Shankar V. State of Maharastra, Shankar was found guilty for the murder of his wife by the trial court and was given imprisonment for life. The accused appealed in HC against the same. since no one appeared in the court on behalf of the accused, the HC assumed that they no longer want a case and have accepted the decision of the trial court. therefore, the HC disposed of the appeal.
The SC bench comprising of Justice R. Banumathi and Justice AS Bopanna in its recent judgment laid down that where the advocate for the appellant is absent on the date of hearing, the Court shall either appoint an amicus curiae and then decide the appeal.
The SC observed,
“where the advocate for the appellant is absent on the date of hearing, the court shall either appoint an amicus curiae and then decide the appeal. Once the appeal against the conviction is admitted, it is the duty of the Appellate Court to either appoint an advocate as Amicus Curiae or to nominate a counsel through Legal Services Authority and hear the matter on merits and then dispose of the appeal. When the appellant was not represented by any advocate, in our view, the High Court ought not to have decided the matter on merits and the impugned order is liable to be set aside and the matter is remitted back to the HC.”
Remanding the appeal to High Court, the bench observed that, if the appellant is still not represented, High Court can nominate a counsel for the appellant through the Legal Services Authority and proceed with the matter.
The same bench in another case had set aside a High Court order on the ground that it ought not to have the acquittal without affording any opportunity of hearing to the accused or by appointing an amicus curiae to argue the matter on his behalf if he does not enter appearance. On the same lines, the bench, decided this case.