Is attendance of an accused mandatory in a criminal case?
A very vital aspect in every criminal case is that; All the proceedings are supposed to be conducted in presence of the accused.
This fundamental principle, on one hand, assures accused of a reasonable trial, but on the other, bounds him down to be personally present on each and every date in the court (in criminal cases). Practically, when it comes to the trial of senior citizens, embroiled in a criminal case due to matrimonial differences of their married children, it becomes vital whether to make them stand the trial or exempt them from the agony, especially when they have to come from distances far.
CrPC does have section 205 to this effect, wherein, the Magistrate may dispense with the personal attendance of the accused and permit him to appear by his pleader. However, herein again a dire necessity of the presence of pleader comes into the scene.
What if on account of some unavoidable situation, the pleader fails to cause his personal attendance?
The repercussions fall on the accused with the next tick of clock. Accused immediately suffers the charge of jumping out of the bail and the hot soup is ready for his dip. His existing bail gets cancelled u/s 446 CrPC, he has to file an application to serve fresh bail bonds, guarantor, surety and so on. In the wake of a flood of domestic violence and matrimonial cases, a revisit into the matter is needed so that the persons remotely connected with the core of the matter may not be harassed and be granted exemption on certain specified grounds and be permitted to continue with the existing bail bonds with a warning, maybe.
The existing section does not define or illustrate or provide guidelines for the exercise of discretion by the magistrate, in spite of the fact that at the end of the trial, which may take four to six years, it often comes out that a large number of people arrayed as accused were not guilty of any offence. Besides, there is no provision to pay them back for the emotional, financial and physical loss they suffer at the hands of compulsory attendance regulation.
Many a times, families from far south have to visit remote areas of north and vice-versa. The distance element, age factor and gravity of nexus with the crime are a few factors which must go into the consideration while adjudging personal attendance issues. In the absence of expressed guidelines, everything has solely been cantered on judicial discretion which has to be impressed and convinced by a brilliant lawyer by furnishing persuasive arguments based on the facts and logic of the case.