1. This appeal questions the validity of the judgment of conviction in one of the sessions trials out of nine for several offences with regard to the medicinal products manufactured by Haffkine Institute, Bombay, wherein the accused was holding the charge of Composite Store Keeper. It is not necessary to enter upon the details so as to indicate the eventual order that we propose to make,
2. At the hearing of this appeal, both the appellant-original accused as well as the respondent-State are agreed that ends of justice require that the present appeal be allowed and the matter be remanded for re-trial from the stage of framing the correct charge.
3. It may be mentioned, at the outset, that this matter was taken up out of turn because the Office pointed out that since 1974 eight other sessions cases being Sessions Cases Nos. 261 of 1974 to 267 of 1974 and 269 of 1974, have been stayed sine die without making any order and are being shown in the judicial returns as pending awaiting the disposal of the present appeal. We will have occasion to turn to this aspect a little later on. Suffice it to say that the joint submission of both the Counsel is well-merited. The charge at Ex. 1 has been raised on four counts and the impugned judgment shows that the said charge was not effectively put in issue by tendering evidence in support of the items particularly mentioned in the fourth count of the charge. Different items, numbering about 12 and ranging from 30th March, 1971 to 9th March 1972, as is evidenced by Exhibits 'A' to 'L' have been discussed by the judgment and the accused has been convicted on different counts. It is indeed clear that when the evidence was being tendered with regard to these items, which were not part of the charge, the accused did not exercise his right of cross-examination and has now raised an objection in this Court.
4. We have uneasy feeling about the whole procedure that was followed with regard to the present trial. Though the first count of the charge speaks of the period from 1st April, 1971 to 9th March, 1972 within which the entrustment of the drugs valued at Rs. 5,06.349.55 p. was made and obviously the judgment relates to a much smaller amount than this, being Rs. 38,000/- and odd, covered by Exhibits 'A' to 'L', it does not appear that at any stage this valuation was effectively changed and brought to the notice of the accused. Indeed, as has been said above, there were other cases and probably the entire value of the drugs entrusted is represented by Rs. 5,06,349.55 p., but for the present trial it is admittedly not of the same value. Similarly, the second count of the charge relates to the offence as regards certain entries of documents which are not specifically mentioned therein. The third count of the charge, similarly, does not give details of the entries of the stock register, which were sought to be proved as culpable by the prosecution against the accused. The fourth count of the charge relates to some other documents not covered by Exhibits 'A' to 'L' and which were obviously, and it is not disputed by the prosecution, not tendered in evidence. Thus, the whole matter of the foundation of the prosecution with regard to the present trial has proceeded on erroneous basis resulting in obvious miscarriage of justice both to the prosecution as well as to the accused. No sufficient attention by all concerned appears to have been bestowed with regard to the framing of the proper charge and tendering evidence in its support. In a criminal trial the . charge is the foundation of the accusation and every care must be taken to see that it is not only properly framed but evidence is only tendered with respect to the matters put in the charge and not the other matters. If we were to apply these principles, the conviction obviously cannot be sustained, for the items at Exhibits 'A1 to 'L' are not expressly the part of the fourth count of the charge. Ex. 'A' obviously is even outside the period covered from 1st April, 1971 and would not be the part of the charge even with reference to the first count. We have alluded how the defence has recorded its protest in the belief that the accused was not charged with the particular items which were being put in evidence and, therefore, he had not exercised the right of cross-examination. Under these circumstances, in our view, the trial is entirely vitiated and prejudice is obvious. As was rightly submitted by both the learned Counsel, by directing the re-trial the ends of justice will be effectively met in the present case.
5. Coming to the framing of the charge, we would like to mention that the period covered by the present trial is clearly restricted as being one between 1st April, 1971 and 31st March, 1972. While framing the charge, the learned Sessions Judge will keep in mind this period and amend all the counts of the charge from the first count to the fourth count. It is implicit that all the items which the prosecution seeks to establish against the accused concerning this period will be appropriately described while framing the charge. Similarly, with regard to the second and third counts, as may be permissible under law, the particular items and entries will be specified in the said counts of the charge. Count No. 4 should specify all items between the period aforesaid which the prosecution seeks to establish as culpable. After framing the charge in this manner, the Sessions Judge will proceed to hold a de novo trial,
6. Now, coming to the stay of the other Sessions cases; being Sessions cases Nos. 261 of 1974 to 267 of 1974 and 269 of 1974, for the purpose of awaiting decision of this appeal, we are at a loss to know how such a sine die holding up of the prosecutions has been continued for all these years and that too without any judicial order. In criminal cases, law dictates all expedition once cognisance of accusation is taken by the Court. It is only rare and specific circumstances that stay of proceedings is permitted and that too by judicial speaking orders disclosing sound reasons for making the same. Here, we have in vain searched for any such order with regard to the stay of other sessions cases. What is explained to us by the Office is said to be practice for keeping back the connected trials only because one of the trials is concluded and appeal has been filed against the judgment of conviction. Both the prosecution and the accused state that they did not seek any such postponement. We can hardly appreciate such practice, particularly when the record and decision of one trial cannot be read with relevance in another criminal trial, nor the judgment in another can be coloured by the findings in the former. Such practice can hardly subserve, in our view, the ends of criminal justice, In fact, if followed, it is likely to adversely affect the interest of the same. Illustratively we can conceive of cases that by the time the appeals are disposed of and the connected cases are taken up for hearing thereafter, considerable time will be lapsed and by that time even the witnesses available once may not be then available or their memory may fade. So also, if more than one accused are involved in the trial, some of them may not be available because of natural events. Similarly, the judgment appreciating evidence in one of such cases taken up in appeal may alert the parties, and particularly the prosecution, making it possible to fill in the gaps, if left, all to the prejudice of a particular defence. Cardinal principle that we can emphasise is that once cognisance is taken, the trial should proceed by the stages indicated by the Code of Criminal Procedure governing such trial and the .Court presiding over the trial should be loath to depart from the same. Procedural law plays an important role in the holding of criminal trials and deflections from it can hardly be sanctioned. The staying of matters, without any judicial speaking order, is a clear deflection to be deprecated by all concerned.
7. Simple rule or principle underlying the provisions, like Section 309 of the new Cr. P. C. equivalent to Section 344 of the old Cr. P. C. is that once the cognisance of the accusations of a criminal nature is taken by the competent Court, the trial has to be held with all expedition so as to bring to book the guilty and to absolve the innocent. This has to be achieved with speed and without loss of time in the interest of public justice. By keeping the matters pending sine die in this manner there is a grave danger of jeopardising not only the ends of justice but also the liberty of the persons accused of offences, for the pendency of the trial means keeping persons bonded to the process of Court. When it is a matter of sessions trial, it is most inexpedient to adjourn the same as the statutory dictates of the Code are clear in that such a trial should proceed and be heard continuously from the inception to its finish subject to exceptional circumstances necessitating short adjournments. This had been the law always and administered accordingly. (See Badri Prasad v. Emperor (1912) CrILJ 861; Agha Nazarali v. Emperor AIR 1941 Sind 186, and Emperor v. Rahamatali (1941) 45 Cal WN 819. Significance of speedy trial, it is high time, should be understood and followed as the underlying principle of effectively administering the criminal justice.
8. Indicating these principles, we direct that all these cases shall be tried as expeditiously as possible, and if necessary one after another, unless there exists good reason to be recorded to withhold the proceedings or adjourn the same to any future date.
9. In view of the above, the present appeal is allowed, the impugned judgment is set aside and the matter is remanded for de novo trial from the stage of framing the correct charge. The accused to appear before the Sessions Judge on 30th July 1979 and furnish fresh bail bond in this case which shall supersede the earlier bail granted by this Court. The records be despatched forthwith to the Sessions Court. Criminal Application No. 722 of 1979 stands allowed. Criminal Review Application No. 932 of 1975 which is for enhancement of 'sentence does not survive and the same is dismissed.