The Supreme Court today refused to quash the trial in the 1975 murder case of the then Railway Minister L N Mishra, saying proceedings cannot be terminated merely because they have not been concluded in the past 37 years.
A bench of justices H L Dattu and C K Prasad dismissed a plea filed by the undertrials, who had pleaded that the trial be terminated as it had not been concluded in 37 years and was still going on.
Although the two judges concurred on the issue of dismissing the petition, they differed in their reasoning.
While Justice Dattu blamed the accused for dragging the trial, Justice Prasad was sympathetic towards the accused but refused to grant any relief on the ground that the apex court’s two Constitution Bench judgments did not allow passing of an order in favour of the petitioner.
“In the present case, the delay is occasional by exceptional circumstances. It may not be due to failure of the prosecution or by the systemic failure but we can only say that there is a good cause for the failure to complete the trial and in our view, such delay is not violative of the right of the accused for speedy trial,” the bench said.
It said that the accused persons in the case have taken repeated adjournments and they cannot take advantage or the benefit of the right of speedy trial by causing the delay and then use that delay in order to assert their rights.
“We certainly say that our system has not failed, but, accused was successful in dragging on the proceedings to a stage where, if it is drawn further, it may snap the justice delivery system. We are also conscious of the fact that more than thirty Judges had tried this case at one stage or the other, but, all of them have taken care to see that the trial is completed at the earliest,” the bench said.
The bench directed the lower court to hold trial in the case on day to day and complete the proceeding expeditiously.