Adjournment may be defined a s a putting off until another time or place . In other words, it is a putting off or postponing of business or of a session until another time or place; the act of a court, legislative body, public meeting, or officer, by which session or assembly is dissolved, either temporarily or finally, and the business in hand dismissed from consideration, either definitely or for interval. If the adjournment is final, it is said to be sine die. No appointed date for resumption . However, the proper definition of adjournment is to “postpone, suspend or transfer proceedings”. The lawyer may apply for an adjournment for a short period or for a long term if it necessary for him especially in situations where he or she is caught off guard by what has transpired during a trial. Court usually will grant the application of adjournment if in the opinion of the court that it will avoid of hardship to the parties involved. However, the court may exercise his discretion if in the opinion of the prosecutor that, by the effluxion of time would most certainly affect the ability of his or her witnesses to recall facts. For example in the case of PP v Tanggaah as states by Sharma J “...that the longer a period is allowed to elapse from the time of the incident to the time of giving evidence in court, the greater the chances are for confusion to occur and for truth to be obscured”.
Stage of an adjournment
The prosecution and the defence counsel may at any time during the trial apply to the court for postponement and adjournment. The application must be made in writing with the cogent reason stated comply with the application. Then the court will look into the reason stated and determine whether the application should be granted or not. Whatever the decision made the magistrate shall be in writing and be signed and also states the reason of his decision. Thus, an adjournment may be applied at any stage of trial if in the opinion of the court it is necessary to do so. As the granting of n adjournment is a matter of discretion, the court has unfettered power of such decision as he deems fit in the grant of adjournment.
Principle of Adjournment.
The principle of adjournment is that, the court should take strictly precaution in granting adjournment and grant it based on the absence of the witness and have reasonable cause to do so. The court may not grant an adjournment if in the court opinion that it will prejudice the case. This may seen in the case of Public Prosecutor V Tan Kim San , The prosecuting officer applied for a postponement of at least 6 month on the ground that investigation had not been completed and was granted that postponement. On revision, Harun J stressed that: a)
The principle is that a person should not be in court until the investigation into the case against him has been completed and there is a prima facie evidence to prosecute him. b)
Therefore, the procedure to be followed is to investigate first and arrest later. In the present case, the Magistrate ought to have exercised his powers under s. 173 (g) CPC and discharge the OKT instead of granting the postponement. c)
Advise the Magistrate to exercise their powers under s. 173 (g) whenever the prosecuting officer asks for a postponement of a case on the ground that investigation has not been completed.
Purpose of an Adjournment
An adjournment has no strict purpose as it must by looking case on case basis. The general purpose of an adjournment is to uphold the right of the accused to be tried fairly. By applying an adjournment, the accused have enough time to choose independent layer to represent him as discuss the issue that should be pointing out during the trial. Moreover, the purpose of applying an adjournment is to complete an investigation of the case. This may in two situations either in prosecution situation or in defence situation. By applying an adjournment, the prosecutor or defence...
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