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