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BMW case: SC questions delay over appeal

delhi Updated: Oct 12, 2011 00:16 IST
Bhadra Sinha

The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned the delay over Delhi Police's appeal against the High Court verdict handing out lesser punishment to Sanjeev Nanda in a hit-and-run accident.

Former Indian Navy chief SM Nanda's grandson, Sanjeev, was held guilty of mowing down six persons while driving a BMW car on Lodhi Road in the early hours of January 10, 1999. Upholding his conviction, Delhi High Court, in June 2009, had sentenced Sanjeev to two years in jail but released him on good conduct. While the mandatory period to file an appeal is 180 days, the police had challenged it in March 2010.

"Is the delayed filing of the special leave petition (appeal) part of the whole subversion of justice?" observed a bench of Justice Deepak Verma and Justice Jasti Chelameswar. The comments were pursuant to additional solicitor general (ASG) Hiren Rawal's submission that the case was "a classic case of subversion of the dispensation of the criminal justice system."

Arguing for the police, Rawal referred to the Supreme Court (SC) verdict holding noted criminal lawyer RK Anand guilty of interfering with the justice system, as he had attempted to influence a prosecution witness in the case. Stating that the subversion was apparent even in the SC judgment, the ASG added: "It was such that even a victim had turned hostile. The subversion of criminal justice did not stop even after the HC verdict."

At this, the bench asked Rawal: "Are you suspecting the delay in the occasion (filing of appeal before SC) is part of the continuation of subversion of criminal justice?" In response, the ASG said though there were no submissions on it in the appeal, he "personally had strong reasons to believe so."

The bench then directed the police to file a detailed affidavit giving reasons for the delay in applying for a certified copy of the 2009 Delhi HC verdict. A certified copy is required to facilitate filing of an appeal before SC. In this case, the police had applied for a copy after 180 days.

Giving two weeks' time, SC directed Rawal to specify if action was initiated against the "errant" police officer who failed to get the certified copy on time. Police has assailed the High Court verdict for treating the offence against Sanjeev as "rash and negligent" act and has contended that the court should have attributed knowledge against him as he was intoxicated while driving the car.