In a petition filed before the Madras High Court to transfer the trial of a corruption case from the court of the special judge in Sivagangai to any competent court in Chennai on the ground that the accused is now an aged man and cannot travel such a long distance to due old age and mental agony, the Hon’ble Madras High Court comprising of a single judge bench of Justice Dr. P. Devadass held that the said case cannot be transferred on the ground that the accused is an old man and is having difficulty in travelling 1000 kms to attend the trial proceedings.
The Madras High Court held that it maybe true that the accused has to travel a huge distance to attend the trial proceedings, but he is an accused in a white-collar crime case and this is not a valid reason to transfer the proceedings from one court to another. However, the court further held that, the accused can place an application before the Ld. Special Judge for exemption of appearance in the proceedings and the Ld. Special Judge should exempt such personal appearance when the counsel for the accused is appearing in the court and such personal appearance of the accused is not required.
The Court observed,
“8. Ofcourse, it is quite natural in the present set up, he has to undergo some inconvenience. But, the Court has to see whether by this his defence is prejudiced. He has engaged a counsel to defend himself. Except the stated inconvenience, there is no bottleneck for defending himself as against the charges levelled against him. On account of the said inconvenience, we cannot transfer the case, because it does not appear to be a valid ground.”
The court further observed,
“10. Trial must go. But, at the same time, his inconvenience to extent possible must also go. Therefore, he can file a petition before the learned Special Judge for dispensing with his personal appearance when really his attendance is not required. If such a petition is filed, the learned Special Judge can liberally consider it. However, there is no bar on the part of the learned Special Judge to direct him to attend the Court for any ‘effective hearing date’ that is to say, when his identity is involved (in a corruption case it is very rare), for his examination under Section 313 Cr.P.C., incase need arises to examine him under Section 248 Cr.P.C., for hearing the Judgment.”