"In this country, if you are caught taking bribe, you can go scot-free by giving bribe," the Delhi High Court said Monday, pulling up the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for delay in probing a two-decade-old graft case.
The court pulled up the CBI for delaying the investigation in the case, which involves a Delhi power utility engineer, saying that the agency's work was not up to the mark.
Justice S.N. Dhingra said: "The people of this country have a vested right to ensure that officers working in public offices should be honest and persons with integrity and those who indulge in corruption should be brought to book."
The court also directed the CBI chief to investigate as to who were responsible for the delay in the case and what action has been taken against errant officials.
The court dismissed the plea by A.K. Gupta, who was accused of taking bribe in 1990 when he was working as engineer in Delhi's electricity department, to close the case against him. Gupta was caught red-handed by the CBI.
"The CBI had no explanation as to why the result of investigation was not filed for all these years," the judge observed. In 2004, the CBI filed a closure report in the trial court, which rejected it saying that the reasons given in the report were flimsy, unconvincing and vague.
It was found that the CBI had not investigated the case properly and had unnecessarily doubted the credibility of the complainant.
In 2002, the CBI filed a chargesheet in the court which took cognisance of the same in 2009. Gupta then approached the court seeking quashing of the chargesheet on the ground of delay.
In his petition, he stated that speedy investigation and trial was his right. He said some witnesses whom he could have examined in his defence had retired and it would be impossible for the petitioner to trace them now.
Pulling up the CBI for delaying the investigation, the court said: "The entire investigation does not take more than two months as the accused was caught red handed and the agency has to record only the statements of witnesses involved in the trap."
"It seems that the CBI was not at all interested that the corrupt officials sitting in the public offices should be brought to book," the court said.
"Even if the CBI had to file a closure report doubting the credibility of the complainant and other witnesses, it could have filed the same within a reasonable time," the court said.
"Perhaps, the CBI wanted that the case should die a slow unnatural death that is why for 11 years it kept sitting on this investigation and then filed a closure report giving lame excuses," the court said.