Thirteen years to scrutinise documents of a case! The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) received flak from a Delhi court for taking such a long time to go over documents, thus prolonging the trial, during which five of the accused died. The youngest accused is now 59 years old.
“It took around 13 years for CBI to comply with the mandatory provision of supply of copies u/S 207, CrPC (Supply to the accused, the copy of police report and other documents),” Special Judge Dinesh Kumar Sharma said.
Ticking off the country’s premier probe agency, the judge said: “It is very difficult to understand what was the rationale of citing so many witnesses and filing of load of documents – when they were not to be examined and proved.”
The judge’s remark came while awarding two years’ rigorous imprisonment to convict Lalit Kumar Parmar, director of private firm Punjab Phosphate Pvt. Ltd., and slapping a Rs.20,000 fine on him. The court also slapped Rs.5 crore fine on Punjab Phosphate.
According to the prosecution, Punjab Fertilizer and Pesticides Industries, Amritsar, came into existence for the purported manufacture of single superphosphate. The partnership firm, Punjab Fertilizer and Pesticides Industries, changed its constitution to a company named Punjab Phosphate in June 1983.
The company got subsidy on bogus bills till March 1987, amounting to Rs.3,33,45,282. The court observed that Parmar procured subsidy on bogus bills. The court called the case as a classic example of total failure of governance and said the amount belonged to the common man.
The court said: “The hard earned money of the tax payers was fraudulently taken away by the white collar criminals in the form of subsidy.” The court pulled up the CBI for filing thousands of documents with the charge-sheet. The CBI has cited 175 witnesses.
The case was registered in 1988 and the chargesheet was filed in 1994. The charges were framed against the accused on Oct 21, 2011. From 1994 to the framing of charges, the CBI took 13 years in perusing the documents.
The prosecution evidence was commenced from January 2012 on a daily basis. The court has only examined 43 prosecution witnesses out of the 175.
The CBI had booked 23 accused in the case, of whom five died during the trial.
“There is another distinct feature of this case. The youngest accused R.C. Nirmal is now 59 years of age and oldest accused M.S. Sandhu is about 81,” said the judge. The judge acquitted 16 accused from the case after observing that the prosecution had failed to establish their role in the case.