Even though the Chief Justice of India seeks to downplay judicial arrears, the issue continues to haunt the common man, who is at the receiving end of the problem.
Here is one such example.
A city court took two decades to decide a case foisted on a small-time exporter for smuggling transistor circuits worth Rs 3,600.
Narender Pal Nagpal (62), a resident of Patel Nagar, ran from pillar to post pleading for justice. Curiously, the customs department auctioned the case property during the course of the trial.
This made Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) Ajay Pandey remark, “What application of mind was done by then Commissioner of Customs?”
Nagpal pleaded in the open court, “This case has torn my life into pieces. First, I was framed in a case and then forced to face trial for many years. Spare me further harassment of continuing an illegal trial against me”.
Rajeev Dawar, counsel for Nagpal, cited a letter written by an Inspector of Customs addressed to the Assistant Commissioner on January 14, 2004, stating that the case property was auctioned on September 25, 1991, a few days after registration of the case against Nagpal.
According to the customs counsel, the accused had tendered a voluntary statement on September 7, 1991 owing up that he was smuggling transistor ICs, which were recovered from his residence
The court noted that the customs department, without its permission, auctioned the case property and adjourned the matter on several occasions for a cover-up.
“In the case in hand, the sanctioning authority (Commissioner of Customs) has neither appeared in the witness box, nor been cited as a witness,” said the judge.
Dawar contended in court that the case was never sanctioned against Nagpal. However, customs authorities prosecuted Nagpal for several years.
Nagpal's counsel argued that no conviction could be based on statements recorded before customs officials.
The Magistrate said that there is no witness, before whom the sanctioning authority put its signature to begin the trial against the accused.
Dawar said, “It was a plant case and if not ended today, the trial could go on for eternity. It is abuse of law.”