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Accused must have translations of documents: HC

January 06, 2009 17:13 IST

If an accused is not supplied with translations of documents pertaining to the crime, it is a violation of his constitutional right to defend himself, Bombay High Court held recently, ordering a person's acquittal.

Petitioner Firoz Khan, a resident of Nagpur, was detained by the Nagpur police on June 12, 2008.

The order was passed by the Nagpur Police Commissioner under Maharashtra Prevention Of Dangerous Activities Act, as Khan had allegedly committed several offences "prejudicial of public order."

This included two offences where he was booked for attempt to murder.The order of detention was forwarded to the Home Department, which confirmed it.

Khan challenged the order before the Bombay High Court.

In the High Court, his lawyer pleaded that the two FIRs registered against him were out of 'personal grudge'. Moreover, he said, Khan was not given the Hindi translations of the FIRs, panchnama, and other important documents related to his crimes.

Khan, whose mother-tongue is Urdu, did not understand the documents in Marathi, his lawyer said.

The Prosecution said that though translations of all the documents were not given to him, contents of them were read out to him in Hindi.

However, division bench of Justices K J Rohee and A P Bhangale held that this was not enough.

Some vital documents, such as panchanama of discovery of a sword (allegedly belonging to Khan), and the home secretary's letter confirming the police commissioner's order were not translated for his benefit, court noted.

Court observed that the police indeed had enough material against Khan to take action against him under MPDA.

But, the court held, "These were vital documents...His right to make an effective representation (under Article 22 of constitution) is impaired" as he could not understand them in Marathi.

As a result, the court set aside Khan's detention.

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