1. The appellant has been convicted by the Sessions Judge of South Arcot of an offence punishable under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code and has been sentenced to death.
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2. [After discussing the evidence and confirming the conviction and sentence their Lordships added]:
3. Before closing this judgment mention ought to be made of the manner in which the committing Magistrate questioned the accused. The object of questioning an accused by the Court under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code is to give the accused an opportunity of explaining the circumstances that appear against him in the evidence. Unfortunately, since the Privy Council decision in Dwarkanath Varma v. The King-Emperor (1933) 64 M.L.J. 466 , Courts have cultivated the habit of summarising the whole evidence and asking the accused what he has to say with regard to it. A summary at considerable length tends to defeat the object of Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code; because the attention of the accused is not drawn thereby to the salient features of the prosecution case that seem to call for some explanation. To an ordinary straightforward account of witnesses of an actual occurrence no detailed questions seem necessary. On the other hand, if, for example, some article is found in the accused's house which points in an emphatic manner to the accused's responsibility for the crime, he should be given an opportunity of offering an explanation of the presence of that article in his house. In his questions to the accused the committing Magistrate has given a long precis of the whole prosecution evidence, which is a particularly bad example of a misunderstanding of the above Privy Council decision and is an abuse of the provisions of Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Fortunately, in a straightforward case like this, no injury could have resulted to the appellant from this examination.