Man’s wait for justice ends after 21 years as HC quashes case
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that though ‘justice’ to USbased Garvit Chopra was delayed by more than two decades, it was not denied to him. The Bombay High Court recently came to his rescue and quashed a robbery case that was pending against Chopra since 1996.
A division bench of Justice Rajendra Savant and Justice Sandeep Shinde granted relief to Chopra, observing that an accused can never be deprived of his constitutional right of “speedy trial.”
Chopra was a college going student when he was named in a complaint accusing him of stealing a car stereo in 1996. The complaint also named another accused who was acquitted in the case way back in 2003.
With the passage of time, Chopra moved to US to pursue his studies and ended up settling there. He now resides in the US with his wife.
However, it was only after a decade of the complaint being registered, that is in 2006, that Chopra learnt that a court had issued a nonbailable warrant against him. He learnt that he was named in the case and that the co-accused was acquitted and that a case was still pending against him.
Accordingly, he engaged an advocate and approached the concerned magistrate in Andheri. He was released on bail and thereafter he kept tabs on the case through his advocate. However, everytime he was informed that the case papers were not traceable.
Moreover, the prosecution in the case could not come up with any strong evidence against Chopra and its sole witness had turned hostile.
Interestingly, even the complainant had turned hostile and the stolen car stereo was never recovered by the Meghwadi police, which was investigating the case.
After scrutinising the material on record, Justice Savant said, “In our view, the appellant’s (Chopra’s) constitutional right recognised under Article 21 stands violated. Considering the facts of the case, we feel that, it would be unfair he is relegated to the trial court for seeking a discharge from the case. We cannot overlook the fact that, the case is of 1996 and the witnesses in the case would not be available, as they were not available in the year 2003 when the co- accused was tried.”
“In our view, the possibility of trial, in this case is bleak and we see no propriety in keeping the subject case pending. In the facts of the case and having regard to the nature of accusations made against the appellant, we feel and we are convinced that the petitioner has been denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial and therefore the criminal proceedings initiated against him in the year 1996 and pending since then, deserve to be quashed and set aside,” Justice Savant added.
CHOPRA WAS a college going student when he was named in a complaint accusing him of stealing a car stereo in 1996. The complaint also named another accused who was acquitted in the case way back in 2003. Now, aftr more than two decades, the Bombay High Court has quashed the robbery case against him.