When the Supreme Court time and again reminds subordinate courts and prosecuting agencies that speedy trial is a fundamental right of an accused, it means that they shall not be harassed or put to hardship by delaying the verdict.
However, it seems, the apex court’s advice continues to fall on deaf ears. At the receiving end of the Indian judiciary’s slow-moving wheels of justice in this case is a foreigner. A.E. Pinto, the 63-year-old London-based Brazilian businessman, facing trial in the 13.3 million urea scam has been waiting for 12 years to know his fate.
The CBI got him extradited from London in 2000. He was granted bail two years later. Pinto has been leading a lonely life in a one-room Lajpat Nagar house paying a Rs-6,000 rent ever since.
The never-ending trial has compounded Pinto’s anxiety, who is worried about his wife, a cancer patient, away in London. Pinto suffered his second paralytic stroke on April 28, 2009. The left side of his body is completely paralysed.
Besides immobilising him, it also resulted in fluctuating speech.
Pinto meets his expenses using the money sent by his wife who works with an NGO despite her illness. Pinto needs help to take a bath or eat food. Following repeated requests by his lawyer, the Brazilian embassy has deputed a help for a week (from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
As per his lawyer Wills Mathews, Pinto has in effect undergone a detention of 11 years, 4 months and 18 days. The maximum punishment he can get for the offence of cheating, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy for which he has been charged is seven years.
On Friday, the critically ill Pinto moved the Delhi High Court seeking his repatriation to London on personal bond.
“I require immediate attention and indulgence from the honourable court, failing which I may die a very lonely and inhuman death,” Pinto says in the petition. The plea is expected to come up for hearing on Monday.
“Even if he was convicted, he would have long gone back home as he has already undergone more than the maximum prescribed punishment...,” the petition says.
Mathews is relying on Section 436 A of the Criminal Procedure as per which if an accused undergoes detention for more than one-half of the period of imprisonment specified for the offence he is charged under, the court shall release him on his personal bond.