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37-year-old theft case, Delhi HC relief for senior CBI officer

The Delhi High Court on Monday set aside a trial court order imposing a cost of Rs 10,000 on the Director of Prosecution of the CBI for causing delay in the trial of a 37-year-old theft case

delhi Updated: Jan 30, 2018 19:58 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Delhi High Court,CBI,Theft Case
The court’s order came on a plea by the CBI challenging the special court’s September 2017 order of passing strictures against the agency and its director of prosecution.(HT File Photo)

The Delhi high court on Monday set aside a trial court order imposing a cost of Rs 10,000 on the Director of Prosecution of the CBI for causing delay in the trial of a 37-year-old theft case.

Justice Vinod Goel also said that simply because a senior public prosecutor was transferred and another prosecutor was posted, “there was no authority for the Special Judge (trial court) to pass disparaging remarks” against the CBI or its Director of Prosecution.

The court’s order came on a plea by the CBI challenging the special court’s September 2017 order of passing strictures against the agency and its director of prosecution.

The trial court had also imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on the Director of Prosecution, CBI for causing delay in adjudication of the sessions case by not posting a senior public prosecutor well in advance before the previous prosecutor was relieved.

Setting aside the trial court’s direction, the high court observed, “The special judge order was without any authority, jurisdiction or justification.”

“Having considered the facts of the present case in the aforesaid context it was not expected from the special judge either to write a letter to the Director, Central Bureau of Investigation requesting him to cancel the transfer order of the senior public prosecutor (Sr.PP) posted in his court.

“He was also not empowered to act beyond his jurisdiction i.e. subject matter of the dispute pending before him. It was not the jurisdiction or authority of special judge to question the transfer of Sr. PP posted in the court,” it noted.

The high court further said that posting and transfers of the public prosecutors in the CBI is “prerogative of Director of Prosecution, CBI or Director CBI”.

The case relates to the theft of an antique idol from the ancient Takashakeshwar Mahadev temple in Allahabad in 1981 which was being allegedly smuggled to New York. It is probably the oldest pending criminal matter in the country.

The remarks were made by Special Judge Sanjay Kumar Aggarwal, who was then hearing the case in which the accused persons have been acquitted of all charges.

The trial court had pulled up the CBI for not being vigilant enough to ensure the disposal of this case.

The trial court had earlier lambasted the CBI, saying “as is apparent on the face of the record, this is the best case where an old saying ‘Muddai Sust, Gawah Chust’ (the complainant is lazy, but the witness is active) has come true in all its spirit.”

First Published: Jan 30, 2018 19:57 IST