Framing of charges in a 12-year-old case, relating to drowning of over 170 Indian illegal immigrants near Malta in the Mediterranean sea, has been deferred by a Delhi court after it was told that its earlier order has been challenged by three of the accused.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Amit Bansal, who was to frame criminal charges against 20 accused, including two Delhi police officials, adjourned the matter to January 16 next year.
The court was intimated by the defence counsel that its earlier order, holding that there were sufficient evidence to frame charges in the case, has been challenged before the Delhi High Court by three of the accused.
The court, on July one, had ordered framing of charges against 20 accused, including two policemen, allegedly involved in trafficking of the victims.
"Sufficient evidence has been brought on records against the accused to proceed with the trial," it had said.
The court, however, absolved the accused of charges under the Emigration Act and the Passport Act for want of sufficient "prima facie evidence".
The victims, hailing from Punjab, died in the icy waters off the Malta coast on December 25, 1996, after they were transferred from a ship to a boat in the Mediterranean sea. CBI had registered a case against 27 people in 1997.