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BACKGROUND OF THE CASE

  • A SLP was filed by the Union of India against a judgement dated 26 June, 2019 by the High Court.
  • The judgement was reversed in November, 2012 by a decision given by the Special Judge, CBI Raipur, which convicted the respondents under Section 120B, 420, 471 read with Section 468 of the IPC and Section 13 of Prevention of Corruption Act.
  • Later, the respondents were acquitted.

SUBMISSIONS MADE BY ADDITIONAL SOLICITOR GENERAL

  • The ASG, Aishwarya Bharti, conceded the fact that the Union is remised due to the delay, and had urged the Court to consider the matter on the merits basis.
  • She submitted that this case of forgery and embezzlement comes under the Prevention of Corruption Act and requested to look at the clinching facts of the case.

COMMENTS BY JUSTICE SHAH

  • Taking into account the seriousness of the matter, Justice Shah asked why any prompt action was not taken while filing of the appeal.
  • He said, “This is the modus operandi- the officers of the CBI connived with the respondents to not file the appeal.”
  • Further he said that, taking into account this matter, they must make an impact upon the Government that if no prompt action is taken, an adverse inference can be drawn, and that is, the Limitation Act was overlooked deliberately.

COMMENTS BY JUSTICE CHANDRACHUD

  • Justice Chandrachud said that looking at the nature of the case, where there was conviction by the trial court but an acquittal by High Court; justice must be done to the other side as well.
  • He also instructed the new CBI Director to ensure that some sort of monitoring to be done to ensure that such delays do not take place in future.
  • Further, he said that the regional units can decide against the filing of an appeal but they too have to be monitored.

OBSERATIONS BY THE COURT

  • The Division Bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and M.R. Shah instructed the CBI Director to take necessary administrative steps and ensure that the filing of appeals and the other steps that are involved in law are monitored on an ICT platform.
  • It also directed the CBI to look into this matter and make sure that these delays do not occur in future, because the delay on the part of its officers in doing so within the given time, gives rise to ‘grave misgivings’ as regarded the reasons of delay.
  • The Bench also noted that the delay of 647 days of the Union of India in filing the SLP and the app for condonation of delay do not provide any reasonable explanation for the same.
  • It expressed that citing the reason as COVID cannot be accepted for the entire delay period, as the High Court judgements were passed much before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March, 2020.
  • Further, the Bench held that, in the case of acquittal, the nature of explanation offered for the delay is taken into account so as to ascertain whether a case for condonation can be made out or not.

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