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Right of defence evidence not for delaying trial : Court

Right of defence evidence not for delaying trial : Court

The right of an accused to lead defence evidence of his choice cannot be disputed but this cannot be exercised with a view to delay the trial, a special court hearing a coal block allocation scam case has said.

The observation came while disposing of a petition filed byJharkhand Ispat Pvt Ltd (JIPL) Director R S Rungta, seeking modification of December 23 last year order by which the court had dismissed his plea for summoning former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as defence witness in the case.

Special CBI judge Bharat Parashar noted in his order that Rungta’s contention that the court had declined his request to bring on record the desired defence witnesses and documents to prove his innocence was “factually wrong”.

“In the aforesaid circumstances, the request made by way of the present application to modify the order dated December 23, 2015 is per-se not tenable. Similarly, the grounds for modifying order as spelled out in the application are also per-se not sustainable,” the court said.

“Thus, while the right of accused to lead defence evidence of his choice cannot be disputed but as already discussed in detail in my order dated December 23, 2015, the said right cannot be exercised with a view to either delay the trial or to defeat the ends of justice. Such a prayer can always be refused by the court if it is found to be vexatious,” it said.

The court said that record which was sought to be summoned by the accused was already permitted to be brought on record in its order passed last year.

JIPL and its two directors, R S Rungta and R C Rungta, are facing trial in a case pertaining to allotment of North Dhadu coal block in Jharkhand to the firm allegedly on the basis of false and forged documents.
In its order, the court said records, if any, regarding constitution of members of 27th and 30th screening committee and policy decision for allocation of the coal block by joint venture/consortium, be summoned from the Ministry of Coal.

It also said that summons be also issued to the Prime Minister Office (PMO) along with the copy of application filed by the accused so that any record, if available and as asked for by the defence counsel, may be produced before the court.

The court has now fixed the matter for further defence evidence on January 15.

The court had on December 23, dismissed R S Rungta’s plea in which he had also sought summoning of former Minister of State for Coal, Dasari Narayan Rao, as a witness in his defence in the case.

JIPL and both the Rungtas were earlier put on trial by the court which had framed charges against them for securing allotment of the coal block allegedly on the basis of false and forged documents. The accused are out on bail.

( Source – PTI )


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