Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and S.K. Kaul and K.M. Joseph, JJ. proceeded with the matter regarding CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana in the alleged corruption charges, pursuant to Supreme Court’s order in Alok Kumar Verma v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 2249 in which CVC was directed to file its enquiry report under the supervision of the retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice A.K. Patnaik.

The Bench in the present matter on perusal of the CVC enquiry report stated that a copy of the same should be furnished to the petitioner i.e. Alok Verma in order to preserve and maintain the sanctity of the institution of the CBI and public confidence in the said institution.

Further, the report has been asked to be furnished to the office of Attorney General for India and learned Solicitor General of India representing CVC.

Learned Senior Counsel F.S. Nariman submitted on behalf of Alok Verma that he will be ready with the response to the report of CVC by 19-11-2018. The said response has to be submitted to Secretary-General of this Court on 19-11-2018.

The matter is further listed for consideration on 20-11-2018. [Alok Verma v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2454, Order dated 16-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Mridula Bhatkar, J. allowed a writ petition directed against the order of Special Judge (CBI) whereby he allowed prosecution’s application filed under Section 293 CrPC.

The prosecution had filed an application under the said Section for exhibiting the CFSL report without examining the forensic expert. The said application was opposed by the petitioners on the ground that they were challenging the veracity of the said report as well as the competence of the forensic expert, and therefore they requested that the expert shall be called as a witness for cross-examination. The Special Judge, however, allowed the aforesaid application of the prosecution. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioners filed the instant petition.

The High Court noted that the petitioners were facing trial under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The conversation relevant to the case was a disputed issue in the trial. The limited question before the Court was whether the said expert to be called as a court witness under Section 311 CrPC. The Court further noted that the trial court had exhibited the CFSL report to which the petitioners raised an objection and wanted to test the truthfulness and veracity of the exhibited document. According to the Court, in all terminology and considering the position of the law, it was necessary for the trial court to call the forensic expert as a court witness under Section 311 enabling both the parties to cross-examine the witness. In such view of the matter, the petition was allowed. [Navin Laxman Tamboli v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 4325, dated 31-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Sanjay Karol J., dismissed the criminal revision petition to acquit the accused of the offences under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 read with Section 120-B of the IPC, 1860, and any other pending applications filed in relation to it, as it was devoid of any merit to be of consideration.

The petitioner had sought a job at Government College, Dhaliara, by presenting forged certificates. His family members had also procured false certificates so as to gain employment with the Government of Himachal Pradesh. He had also managed to obtain recognition for 100 B.Ed seats and 25 B.Ed seats in the Thakur College of Education on the basis of these false documents. After the culmination of the investigation by the CBI, the report of the same, which identified Dilesh Kumar as the kingpin of the operation, was sent to the Chief Judicial Magistrate. The Chief Magistrate, exercising its powers under Section 306 of the CrPC, granted a tender for pardon to two of the accused named by the CBI in its report, after duly examining them under oath.

The Court, referring to the case of Dilesh Kumar v. Central Bureau of Investigation,2014 SCC OnLine HP 4367, stated that as the trial court was the Special Judicial Magistrate of the CBI, it was not required on the part of the High Court to commit the case for trial to any other court, as was given under Section 306 (5) of the CrPC. It then cited the cases of Central Bureau of Investigation, Chennai v. Arul Kumar, (2016) 11 SCC 733 and Harshad S. Mehta v. State of Maharashtra, (2001) 8 SCC 257 to hold that the Special Court has the exclusive jurisdiction to deal with matters of the CBI and thus, it can grant tenders for pardon under Section 306 of the CrPC, and also take cognizance of matters pertaining to the CBI. The Special Magistrate thus has the mandate to try the case and the contours of Section 306 bind him/her only so far as they can be reasonably followed. [Rajesh Thakur v. CBI, 2018 SCC OnLine HP 1573, decided on 05-11-2018]

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Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and S.K.Kaul, J. addressed the progress in the matter regarding CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana in the alleged corruption charges.

The CVC filed its enquiry report of CBI Alok Verma in a sealed cover in the Supreme Court. Interim CBI Director M. Nageswara Rao also filed report on decisions taken by him for the period of 23-10-2018 to 26-10-2018.

Further, it was observed by the Supreme Court that, Registry was open on Sunday but no intimation in that regard was made for the filing of the report, for which Solicitor General Tushar Mehta apologised.

Background:

 Interim directions by the Supreme Court were as follows:

  • Enquiry in regard to the allegations made against the present Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Alok Verma shall be completed by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) within a period of two weeks.
  • The stated enquiry will be conducted under the supervision of the retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice A.K. Patnaik.
  • M. Nageswara Rao who has been entrusted with the task of looking after the duties of the Director of the CBI shall not take any policy decisions or any major decisions and will perform the routine tasks that are essential to keep the functionality of CBI.

The matter will be considered on Friday, i.e. 16-11-2018. [Common Cause v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2423, Order dated 12-11-2018]

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Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and U.U Lalit and K.M. Joseph, JJ. gave directions to the Hyderabad Police in order to provide adequate security to the complainant in the alleged bribery case against CBI Special Director Rakesh Asthana.

According to the media reports, Satish Sana i.e. complainant approached the Supreme Court for seeking protection and stay on the notice issued by the agency summoning him for interrogation.

The Bench refused to stay CBI summons and rejected the complainant’s plea for recording his statement before the retired Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Patnaik.

[Source: PTI]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K.M. Joseph, JJ., laid down some interim arrangement in order to govern the present situation.

Background:

The Central Government divested the CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana of all their powers and sent them on leave pending enquiry against them in the alleged corruption charges.

The decision was taken on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission which stated that Alok Verma was not cooperating in inquiry in the allegations of corruption and criminal misconduct levelled against him by Rakesh Asthana and it would be only fair to take both off duty till the charges are probed. Furthermore, M. Nageswara Rao, a 1986 Odisha cadre IPS officer who joined the CBI in 2016 was appointed as interim Director of India’s premier investigating the agency.

Alok Verma has approached the Supreme Court against the order of the Central Government that stripped him off his powers and sent him on forced leave.

The interim directions by the court are as follows:

  • Enquiry in regard to the allegations made against the present Director, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Alok Verma shall be completed by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) within a period of two weeks.
  • The stated enquiry will be conducted under the supervision of the retired judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice A.K. Patnaik.
  • M. Nageswara Rao who has been entrusted with the task of looking after the duties of the Director of the CBI shall not take any policy decisions or any major decisions and will perform the routine tasks that are essential to keep the functionality of CBI.

Further, the Supreme Court made it clear that the supervision of on-going enquiry by the CVC to a former judge is an exception being taken due to the necessity being felt on considering the facts of the present case.

The matter has been listed immediately after the Diwali holidays i.e. on 12-11-2018. Alok Verma is represented by veteran advocate Fali S. Nariman, while Attorney General K.K. Venugopal is appearing for the Central Government. [Alok Kumar Verma v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2249, Order dated 26-10-2018]

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Amidst the unprecedented tussle between the top two officers of the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Central Government divested the CBI Director Alok Verma and his deputy Special Director Rakesh Asthana of all their powers and sent them on leave pending enquiry against them in the alleged corruption charges.

The decision was taken on the recommendation of the Central Vigilance Commission which stated that Alok Verma was not cooperating in inquiry in the allegations of corruption and criminal misconduct levelled against him by Rakesh Asthana and it would be only fair to take both off duty till the charges are probed. Furthermore, M. Nageswara Rao, a 1986 Odisha cadre IPS officer who joined the CBI in 2016 was appointed as interim Director of India’s premier investigating agency.

Rakesh Asthana had complained of corruption against the CBI Director. Per contra, the Bureau filed a case under Prevention of Corruption Act, 1968 against its own Special Director Rakesh Asthana and his deputy DSP Devender Kumar. Asthana had approached the Delhi High Court challenging the FIR filed against him in the said bribery case. The Court while ordering the status quo has posted the matter for next hearing on October 29. The matter relates to a case involving meat exporter Moin Qureshi, which was headed by Asthana, while Kumar was its chief investigating officer. The CBI has accused the duo of forgery in recording the statement of Satish Sana, another accused in the case.

Alok Verma has approached the Supreme Court against the order of the Central Government that stripped him off his powers and sent him on forced leave. The Supreme Court is likely to take up the matter today.

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Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar and Dr DY Chandrachud, JJ., sought centre’s response on the plea seeking court-monitored CBI probe into the alleged suicide of BK Bansal, Ministry of Corporate Affairs’ official.

BK Bansal was the former Director General Corporate Affairs, who had hanged himself along with his son with a suicide note stating the reason to be “harassment” by CBI. Bansal was on bail when he committed suicide.

Further, a notice was issued to Centre in the same regard after the PIL was mentioned.

[Source: PTI]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench comprising of CJ Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar and Dr DY Chandrachud JJ., dismissed the Review Petition of the Tehseen Poonawalla v. Union of India (2018) 6 SCC 72 judgment.

The judgment for which the review petition was filed was in regard to the death of CBI Special Judge BH Loya in which the Supreme Court had decided that “documentary material on the record indicates that the death of Judge Loya was due to natural causes. There is no ground for the court to hold that there was a reasonable suspicion about the cause or circumstances of death which would merit a further inquiry.”

The Supreme Court on careful consideration of the review petition stated that there is no reason to be found to interfere with the order impugned. [Bandhuraj Sambhaji Lone v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 776, order dated 31-07-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: In a Writ Petition seeking a writ of Mandamus, the Division Bench comprising of S.J. Kathawalla and Bharti H. Dangre, JJ., decided that non-adherence to the provisions of Section 46(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code would absolutely amount to illegal arrest.

The petitioner was one of the accused in the most talked about case “PNB Scam”, it has been contended by the petitioner that she was called for an investigation in the said case by the respondent-CBI for which she duly cooperated with the investigation agency. Petitioner was arrested at about 8 p.m. after which she was produced before of the Special Judge. Petitioner claims that she had invited the attention of the Special Judge towards her case of illegal arrest wherein she pointed out that her arrest violated the ambit of Section 46(4) of the said Act, though the Special Judge ignored the fact of illegal arrest and proceeded by remanding the petitioner to the custody of the respondent-CBI for a period of 14 days.

Learned counsel for the petitioner had drawn the attention of the Court by giving due explanation of the violation of Section 46(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code in Chapter V that the arrest was absolutely illegal in terms that it has been clearly explained in Section 46 for “Arrest how made”. The said provision is salutary one which provides safeguard against the arrest of a woman after sunset and before sunrise and as per the learned counsel, the safeguards have to be strictly adhered to.

Therefore, the Hon’ble High Court on recording the contentions of the petitioner and noting the facts and circumstances of the case, briefed about the point that the precious guarantee of ‘Life and Liberty’ enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution of India cannot be denied to a convict or accused on a trial and it is an obligation upon State to ensure that there is no infringement of the right of the citizen.

Further, the Court concluded by stating that any deviation from the prescribed procedure in the manner of arrest can therefore, be not countenanced and is liable to be declared as illegal. Allowing the writ petition , it was held that the officials who were responsible for the violation of the Section 46(4) of the Criminal Procedure Code, for arresting the accused after sunset, will be liable for disciplinary proceedings. [Kavita Manikikar v. CBI, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 1095, dated 10-05-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Giving major relief to Tej Pratap Yadav, the former Bihar Health Minister and son of RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, the 3-judge bench of Dipak Misra, CJ and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ closed the criminal proceedings against him in relation to the murder of Rajdev Ranjan, a senior reporter of a news daily, i.e., ‘Dainik Hindustan’, who was brutally murdered on 13.05.2016 by a group of persons.

The Court had, earlier, asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to complete the investigation in the matter at the earliest. The has also directed that police protection be given to the wife of the murdered Journalist as people holding party position and position in the political executive were alleged to be involved in the case as Mohammad Kaif, one of the accused, was spotted with Shahabuddin, Vice President, Rashtriya Janta Dal and Tej Pratap Yadav, former Health Minister, Government of Bihar.

The CBI, however, submitted before the Court that it is investigating into the matter with regard to the involvement of Mohammad Kaif and Mohammad Javed, who are already in custody, but it has not been link Tej Pratap Yadav with any criminal activity in so far as the photograph and the transcript are concerned.

The Court, hence, held that there was no point in keeping the writ petition pending. It, however, granted liberty to the petitioner i.e. the wife of the murdered journalist to approach the appropriate Court in case there is any kind of deviation by Tej Pratap Yadav, which would fall within the concept of criminality. [Asha Ranjan v. State of Bihar, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 264, order dated 22.03.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench of the Delhi High Court comprising of Vibhu Bakhru, J., allowed a petition before it, setting aside the impugned order by which, the petitioner’s contention against CBI being within the purview of Section 24 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 and therefore, not obliged to disclose information sought by Respondent 2.

Briefly, the facts leading up to the impugned order was that Respondent 2, who is an officer with the CBI was facing departmental proceedings and the offences alleged against him were grave and sensitive in nature. Respondent 2 filed an application under the RTI Act seeking certain information related to the disciplinary proceedings. The petitioner declined to disclose the information sought stating that the CBI was listed under the Second Schedule to the Act and thus was outside the purview of the Act. Respondent 2 then filed an appeal which was rejected, followed by a second appeal, which was also rejected. An application seeking information under the Act was filed again, which was not entertained based on the same grounds as before. Respondent 2 then preferred appeals, the first of which was rejected, however, the second was allowed. The present petition impugns the order of the aforesaid appeal.

The Court analyzed the impugned order, finding out that the CIC was of the view that the exclusionary clause of Section 24(1) of the Act was not available in respect of information sought by it’s own officials regarding their service matters. Upon analyzing Section 24(1) of the Act and the proviso thereunder that all information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations do not fall within the exclusionary clause. The Court, however, held the present situation could not, by a long stretch, be considered to be a ‘human rights violation’. CIC held to be in error. Petition allowed.[Central Bureau of Investigation v. Central Information Commission, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 7003, decided on 02.02.2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of RK Agarwal and AM Sapre, JJ dismissed the plea challenging appointment of senior Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as a special director of the CBI.

Refusing to interfere with the unanimous decision taken by the Selection Committee, the Court said:

“before taking the decision, the Director, CBI, had participated in the discussions and it is based on relevant materials and considerations. Further, even in the FIR filed by the CBI, the name of Shri Rakesh Asthana has not been mentioned at all. Thus, lodging of FIR will not come in the way of considering Shri Rakesh Asthana for the post of Special Director, after taking into consideration his service record and work and experience.”

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO Common Cause, had argued before the Court that Rakesh Asthana’s appointment was illegal as his name had surfaced in a diary recovered during a raid conducted by the Income Tax department. He argued that the diary showed the name of Rakesh Asthana as having received an illegal gratification from a company and CBI has recently registered an FIR for money laundering against the accused firm and some public servants. Demanding quashing of Rakesh Asthana’s appointment, the petitioner has also sought a direction to the Centre to transfer him out of the agency during the pendency of investigation.

Attorney General KK Venugopal, on the other hand, argued that Rakesh Asthana had an outstanding career and was looking after eleven zones and supervising high- profile scams including that of AgustaWestland, Kingfisher, Moin Qureshi and Hassan Ali.

Going through the minutes of the meeting of the Selection Committee, the Court noticed that though the secret/confidential letter dated 21.10.2017, furnished by the Director, CBI, enclosing an unsigned note on M/s Sterling Biotech Ltd. and related entities had referred to one Rakesh Asthana, there were no findings in the papers that the person mentioned therein is the same person under consideration for appointment and there is nothing about the veracity of the contents of the document. No further verified material was brought on record and the Committee decided to recommend the name of Rakesh Asthana for appointment as Special Director, CBI.

The Court hence held that the news items reported in the print and electronic media that no decision was taken with respect to the appointment on the post of Special Director, CBI in the meeting of the Selection Committee held on 21.10.2017 were factually incorrect. Also, the statement of the Professor of the University of London reported in the Indian Express appears to be based on the newspaper reports which have been found to be factually incorrect, and therefore, it has no substance. It was, hence, held that the appointment of Rakesh Asthana to post of Special Director, CBI does not suffer from any illegality. [Common Cause v. Union of India,  2017 SCC OnLine SC 1374, decided on 28.11.2017]

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Supreme Court: The bench of RK Agarwal and AM Sapre, JJ reserved it’s verdict on the plea challenging the appointment of Gujarat cadre IPS officer Rakesh Asthana as a special director of the CBI.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the NGO Common Cause, said Rakesh Asthana’s appointment was illegal as his name had surfaced in a diary recovered during a raid conducted by the Income Tax department. He argued that the diary showed the name of Rakesh Asthana as having received an illegal gratification from a company and CBI has recently registered an FIR for money laundering against the accused firm and some public servants. Demanding quashing of Rakesh Asthana’s appointment, the petitioner has also sought a direction to the Centre to transfer him out of the agency during the pendency of investigation.

Attorney General KK Venugopal, on the other hand, argued that Rakesh Asthana had an outstanding career and was looking after eleven zones and supervising high- profile scams including that of AgustaWestland, Kingfisher, Moin Qureshi and Hassan Ali.

While seeking Rakesh Asthana’s ouster, the plea noted the special director was the second in command in the CBI after the director and supervised almost all important cases being handled by the agency.

The verdict is likely to be pronounced on 28.11.2017.

Source: PTI

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On 28.08.2017, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in it’s press release, notified that the Special Judge Jagdeep Singh for CBI Cases, Panchkula(Haryana), after finding Dera Sacha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh guilty U/s 376 & 506 of IPC on 25.08.2017, was sentenced to undergo 20 years rigorous imprisonment for sexual exploitation of two Sadhvis at Dera Sacha Sauda. A fine of Rs. 30, 20, 000 was also imposed upon him. Below is the table showing the break down of the cumulative punishment:

Victim- A For offence u/s 376 of IPC Rigorous Imprisonment for 10 years along with fine of Rs.15.00 lakh (Out of which Rs. 14.00 lakh is to be paid to Victim-A as compensation). In cTWENTY YEARS RIGOROUS IMPRISONMENT AND FINE OF RS.30,20,000/-se of default in payment of fine, further RI of 2 years.
For offence u/s 506 of IPC Rigorous Imprisonment for 2 years along with fine of Rs. 10,000/-, In case of default in payment of fine, further RI of 3 months.
Victim- B For offence u/s 376 of IPC Rigorous TWENTY YEARS RIGOROUS IMPRISONMENT AND FINE OF RS.30,20,000/-Imprisonment for 10 years along with fine of Rs.15.00 lakh (Out of which Rs. 14.00 lakh is to be paid to Victim-B as compensation). In case of default in payment of fine, further RI of 2 years.
For offence u/s 506 of IPC Rigorous Imprisonment for 2 years along with fine of Rs. 10,000/-, In case of default in payment of fine, further RI of 3 months.

The CBI court also held that both the sentences will run consecutively i.e. the sentence with reference to Victim-B will start after the sentence with reference to Victim-A has been completed.

In the present case, CBI had registered the case against the Dera Chief u/s 376, 506 & 509 of IPC on 12.12.2002 after the Punjab & Haryana High Court had, on 24.09.2002, directing CBI to investigate the alleged sexual exploitation of Sadhvis at Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa by Baba Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, the Head of Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa. The High Court had initiated suo motu proceedings in the matter after an anonymous letter, alleging the sexual assault, was sent to the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

During trial, the prosecution examined 15 witnesses. The accused was also examined. Thereafter, one witness was examined as a Court Witness on the orders of the Supreme Court of India. The Defence examined 37 witnesses. The final arguments were concluded on 17.08.2017 and the accused was found guilty on 25.08.2017.

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of JS Khehar, CJ and Dr. DY Chandrachud, J stayed the Madras HC order that that had allowed Karti Chidambaram to travel abroad and asked him to participate in the investigations in the Foreign Investment Promotion Board irregularities matter.

CBI had appealed before the Court after the Madras High Court stayed the lookout notice issued by the Centre against Karti Chidambaram in the matter relating to the irregular clearance given to the IMX Media house for Foreign Direct Investment in the year 2007 by the then Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. The Supreme Court stayed the Madras High Court order and said that Karti Chidambaram cannot travel abroad till the next date of hearing i.e. 18.08.2017 and had to appear before CBI. [CBI v. Karti P. Chidambaram,  Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s). 20699-20700/2017, order dated 14.08.2017]

Case BriefsHot Off The PressNewsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Restoring the conspiracy charges against RJD Chief Lalu Prasad Yadav in Fodder Scam, the bench of Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy, JJ directed that the trial in the matter be concluded within 9 months. The Court explained that the modus operandi being the same would not make it a single offence when the offences are separate. Commission of offence pursuant to a conspiracy has to be punished. If conspiracy is furthered into several distinct offences there have to be separate trials. Each trial has to be separately held and the accused to be punished separately for the offence committed in furtherance of conspiracy. In case there is only one trial for such conspiracy for separate offences, it would enable the accused person to go scotfree and commit number of offences which is not the intendment of law.

Earlier, the Jharkhan High Court had dropped the charges against the RJD Chief on the ground that he cannot be tried twice for the offence. In 2013, a trial court had imposed 5 years sentence upon Lalu Prasad Yadav in a different case relating to fodder scam. The CBI, however, argued that both the cases are different as both relate to different amount of embezzlement during different period of time. Terming the order of the High Court to be flawed, the Court said that it is difficult to say that prosecution would be bound by the finding in a previous trial on a similar issue of fact. It was held that n what manner the duty has been carried on for different periods would be the question of fact in each case and there is no question of double jeopardy in such a case. The Court further said that the impugned orders are palpably illegal, faulty and contrary to the basic principles of law and Judge has ignored large number of binding decisions of this Court while giving impermissible benefit to the accused persons and delayed the case for several years.

Concerned with the conduct of the CBI in such important matters, the Court said that lethargy on CBI’s part is intolerable as CBI is expected of it to be more vigilant. If CBI fails to act timely, peoples’ faith will be shaken in its effectiveness. The Court said that in important cases Director, CBI should devise methodology which should not be cumbersome as reflected in these cases. Being the head of the institution it was the responsibility of the Director, CBI to ensure that appeals were filed within limitation. There should not have been delay in filing special leave petitions at all.

The Court had ordered CBI to investigate the large-scale defalcation of public funds, fraudulent transactions and fabrication of accounts in Animal Husbandry Department of State of Bihar in State of Bihar v. Ranchi Zila Samta Party, (1996) 3 SCC 682. The allegations of corruption relate to embezzlement of around Rs. 94 Lakhs during the regime of Lalu Prasad Yadav by procuring large amount of fodder, medicines and animal husbandry equipment for fictitious livestock. In the scam that lasted for several years, total 64 cases had been registered relating to Bihar Fodder Scam. 52 cases involved withdrawal of huge sums of money from Government treasuries falling within Jharkhand State and in 36 out of 52 cases charge-sheet had been filed by CBI before the appointed day. [State of Jharkhand v. Lalu Prasad, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 551, decided on 08.05.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the mother of a 22 year old girl who died under mysterious circumstances on 1.8.2015 filed a write petition seeking transfer of the investigation from the Crime Branch, Delhi to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for further investigation, the 3-Judge Bench of Dipak Misra, A.M. Khanwilkar and M.M. Shantanagoudar, JJ directed the CBI to investigate into the crime independently, without being influenced by any kind of prior investigation or prior status report, and file the status report before this Court within three months hence.

The petitioner had contended that the photographs of the deceased reveal that there has been assault with immense brutality which could not have been caused by an accident. Also, the medical report mentions that the injuries suffered by the victim do not rule out a homicidal assault and the report also reflects that the injuries that have been sustained by the victim may be due to striking of edged heavy blunt weapon during inter-personal violence. It was alleged that there has been no proper investigation in respect of the crime in question and effort is being made for some unfathomable reason to treat it as an accident. The Crime Branch, Delhi contended that it has taken extreme pains to solve the issue.

Considering the contention of the petitioner and the Crime Branch, Delhi, the Court said that though it cannot be said that there has been any kind of laxity in the investigation carried out by the Delhi Police, but there can be no doubt that the CBI is more equipped and the citizens of this country have faith in its investigating abilities. The Court will take up the matter on 10.07.2017. [Neelam Mishra v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 276, order dated 24.03.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of Madan B.Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Dr. A.K. Sikri, JJ directed that a Special Investigating Team led by the Director, CBI along with two officers of the CBI nominated by the Director should look into the report prepared by M.L. Sharma and other relevant documents and conduct an investigation into the abuse of authority prima facie committed by Ranjit Sinha, the then Director of CBI, with a view to scuttle enquires, investigations and prosecutions being carried out by the CBI in coal block allocation cases.

It was further directed that the Director, CBI should take the Chief Vigilance Commissioner into confidence in respect of the investigations. Mr. R.S. Cheema who is already a Special Public Prosecutor in the coal block allocation cases, will assist the Director, CBI and his team on legal issues.

Earlier, by order dated 14th May, 2015, the Court had held that it was completely inappropriate for Ranjit Sinha to have met persons accused in the coal block allocation cases without the investigating officer being present or without the investigating team being present and had formed a Committee headed by M.L. Sharma, IPS (Retired), former Special Director CBI and former Central Information Commissioner to look into the allegations. [Common Cause v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 54, order dated 23.01.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the petition preferred under Article 32 of the Constitution of India by the hapless and helpless widow of Rajdev Ranjan, a senior reporter of a news daily, i.e., ‘Dainik Hindustan’, who was brutally murdered on 13.05.2016 by a group of persons, the Court, after considering the status report filed by the CBI, directed the CBI to complete the investigation within 3 months.

The Court also asked the Sessions Judge, Siwan (Town), Bihar, to submit a report along with the order sheet on the next date of hearing i.e. 28.11.2016, with regard to the status of Mohammad Kaif and Mohammad Javed as regards they are proclaimed offenders or whether there was issue of non-bailable warrants of arrest from the court or any other aspect relating to the case concerned.

The Court, by order dated 23.09.2016, had directed that police protection be given to the petition as people holding party position and position in the political executive were alleged to be involved in the case as Mohammad Kaif, one of the accused, was spotted with Shahabuddin, Vice President, Rashtriya Janta Dal and Tej Pratap Yadav, Health Minister, Government of Bihar.

The bench of Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy, JJ added that the accused persons who have been charge sheeted shall not claim any benefit for enlargement on bail under proviso to Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal procedure, as the charge sheet has already been filed by the State Police and further investigation is in progress by the CBI. [Asha Ranjan v. State of Bihar, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1143, decided on 17.10.2016]