Supreme Court Ac­cepts CBI Plea, Re­fuses To Re­move Lalu Prasad Charges

Libertatem Magazine - - Contents - by Swar­nalee Hal­dar

Ar­gu­ments

1. It was ar­gued on be­half of Lalu Prasad Ya­dav, Dr. Ja­gan­nath Mishra and oth­ers that it was a case of only a sin­gle con­spir­acy and there­fore there should be amal­ga­ma­tion of tri­als as per the pro­vi­sions con­tained in sec­tion 223 CR.PC. This Court opined that charges were not framed at that stage. It is for trial court to de­cide the prayer for joint trial. There were large num­ber of ac­cused per­sons. It was also ob­served that main of­fence was un­der the PC Act and con­spir­acy was an al­lied of­fence.

2. It was sub­mit­ted by Shri Ran­jit Ku­mar, learned So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral ap­pear­ing for CBI that as the of­fences re­late to dif­fer­ent trea­suries for dif­fer­ent fi­nan­cial years, for dif­fer­ent amounts run­ning into sev­eral crores with the help of dif­fer­ent fake al­lot­ment let­ters, sup­ply or­ders, dif­fer­ent fal­si­fi­ca­tion of books of ac­counts, dif­fer­ent sup­pli­ers, Ar­ti­cle 20(2) of Con­sti­tu­tion of In­dia is not at­tracted as the of­fences can­not be said to be the same. Sim­i­larly the pro­vi­sions of sec­tion 300 CR.PC are not at­tracted. They are dif­fer­ent of­fences and trans­ac­tions. Re­liance has been placed upon sec­tion 212(2) of the CR.PC so as to contend that the pe­riod of charge for of­fence of mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion shall not ex­ceed one year. There has to be dif­fer­ent tri­als for dif­fer­ent pe­ri­ods. Ref­er­ence has also been made to sec­tions 219, 220 and 221 of CR.PC. There is dif­fer­ence be­tween the same kind and the same of­fence.

3. Ques­tion arises whether there is one gen­eral con­spir­acy pur­suant to which var­i­ous de­fal­ca­tions of dif­fer­ent amounts have been made run­ning into sev­eral years from dif­fer­ent trea­suries, by dif­fer­ent sets of ac­cused per­sons. Whether there could have been only one trial or more than one. Whether le­gal re­quire­ment is for one trial or more than one in such cases.

4. Sec­tion 219 CR.PC pro­vides that three of­fences of same kind within a year may be charged to­gether. It is ap­par­ent from sec­tion 212 read with sec­tion 219 that there have to be sep­a­rate tri­als for dif­fer­ent years cov­er­ing the pe­riod of more than one year. Same kind of of­fence is a dif­fer­ent thing than the “same of­fence” for the pur­pose of sec­tions 219, 220 or 300. The modus operandi be­ing the same would not make it a sin­gle of­fence when the of­fences are sep­a­rate. If con­spir­acy is fur­thered into sev­eral dis­tinct of­fences there have to be sep­a­rate tri­als.

5. One gen­eral con­spir­acy from 1988 to 1996 has led to var­i­ous of­fences as such there have to be dif­fer­ent tri­als for each of such of­fence based upon con­spir­acy in which dif­fer­ent per­sons have par­tic­i­pated at dif­fer­ent times at dif­fer­ent places for com­ple­tion of the of­fence. What­ever could be com­bined has al­ready been done. The court did not find any merit in the sub­mis­sions made by learned se­nior coun­sel ap­pear­ing on be­half of ac­cused per­sons. The court ob­served that the doc­trine as ap­plied in civil cases has no ap­pli­ca­tion in crim­i­nal cases at all. 6. The court ques­tioned CBI that there was a de­lay of 113, 157 and 222 days in fil­ing the re­spec­tive ap­peals by the CBI. Ap­pli­ca­tions have been filed for con­do­na­tion of de­lay on ac­count of the de­part­men­tal, ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures in­volved in for fil­ing the spe­cial leave pe­ti­tion. It has been sat­is­fac­to­rily sub­mit­ted that un­like the pri­vate lit­i­gant the mat­ters re­lat­ing to the Govern­ment are re­quired to be con­sid­ered at var­i­ous lev­els and then only a de­ci­sion is taken to file spe­cial leave pe­ti­tion. The process of re­fer­ring the par­tic­u­lar file from one de­part­ment to an­other is a time con­sum­ing process and de­ci­sions have to be taken col­lec­tively. The ex­pla­na­tion of­fered by the CBI of move­ment of file so as to con­done the de­lay so as to sub­serve the ends of jus­tice, de­serves to be ac­cepted.

Judg­ment

The Court has or­dered set aside the im­pugned judg­ments and or­ders passed by the High Court, al­low the ap­peals and direct the trial court con­cerned to ex­pe­dite the trial and to con­clude the same as far as pos­si­ble within a pe­riod of nine months from to­day.

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