Thirty six years after former railway minister Lalit Narayan Mishra was killed in a bomb explosion, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) wants to produce two more witnesses to prove charges against four accused persons — Sudhevenand (74), Santoshanand (70), Ranjan Dwivedi (64) and Gopalji (62).
He succumbed to injuries the next day. On January 9, 1975, the case was handed over to the CBI. A chargesheet was filed on November 1, 1975. Since then, the trial has been going on — first in Patna and later in Delhi when the case was transferred by the Supreme Court on the request of the CBI.
The country’s top investigation agency has brought 158 witnesses to prove its case till date while the accused had 39 witnesses to prove their innocence. During the course of trial, nine other witnesses were summoned to shed light on the case.
Now, the CBI wants to produce two more witnesses — Rameshwar Singh and Promod Narayan Thakur — financial commissioner and under secretary in the Patna civil secretariat, respectively, to rectify an anomaly in dates on which a file was handed over to a CBI sub-inspector. The trial court has allowed CBI’s application in this regard.
“I think this is the oldest trial in Delhi but I don’t know when it is going to conclude,” said Ranjan Dwivedi, an accused in the case and a practicing advocate in the Supreme Court.
Dwivedi has moved the apex court for quashing of proceedings due to inordinate delay.
He has listed many instances in his petition to highlight how slow the wheel of justice has moved in the case. The trial court has seen 22 judges since the trial was transferred to Delhi in 1979. Three of the four accused have spent 11 years in jail as undertrials before their release on bail in 1986.
“…..the trial judge will take up the matter and proceed with it as much expedition as possible and preferably on a day-to-day basis,” the SC had observed while dealing with another petition filed by Dwivedi. That was 19 years ago in 1992.