Orissa High court while hearing a confiscation case held that no person can be directly or indirectly be denied to access of justice in any manner as access to justice is a constitutional right. The High Court set aside the order of deposit of salary through issuing summons in a confiscation case against a retired public servant stating that access to justice cannot be hampered in any manner either directly or indirectly.
The direction for depositing salary of one day of the witness through summoning was challenged before the High Court by Laxmidhar Satapathy and on hearing the matter Justice S K Sahoo made an observation that the witnesses in the instant case are public servants and examining them would require the production of their official documents and hence they will be providing evidence in their public capacity.
The court noted that the public servants are to be provided with the certificate of attendance by the court on being summoned by the court for giving evidence. In pursuance of this it was noted by the court that on being summoned by the court the public servants will not only be entitled to their that day’s salary but will also get the travelling allowance for the same and if the appellant also pay their one day salary, they will be end up having double salary.
It was further noted by the court that some of the delinquent public servants might have been retired and due to initiation of criminal confiscation case their pensionary benefits might have been withheld. Reiterating the court it said that “In such a situation, asking them to deposit one-day salary of each of the official witnesses they intend to examine would be a painstaking job for them. They would hesitate to give their defence evidence by citing official witnesses apprehending the .condition of expenses which is likely to be incurred by them by depositing the salary of the witnesses”
The court held that only for the reason that a person is not able to pay for the expenses of witness to be examined, he cannot be deprived of his right of defending himself. In no way the access of justice can be hampered as it is a constitutional right provided to every citizen irrespective of caste, colour, sex or race.
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