20 Nov 2023 11:31 AM GMT
The Allahabad High Court last week REJECTED the plea of Congress leader and Rajyasabha MP Randeep Singh Surjewala seeking to quash criminal proceedings in a 23-year-old case of alleged political agitation, rioting, damaging public property when Surjewala served as a youth Congress leader. For context, Surjewala had moved the Court on the ground that the FIR in the case was lodged in...
The Allahabad High Court last week REJECTED the plea of Congress leader and Rajyasabha MP Randeep Singh Surjewala seeking to quash criminal proceedings in a 23-year-old case of alleged political agitation, rioting, damaging public property when Surjewala served as a youth Congress leader.
For context, Surjewala had moved the Court on the ground that the FIR in the case was lodged in the year 2000 but the case was committed to the court of sessions in the year 2022 and thus, there has been a long and undue delay in trial coupled with the fact that certain original records of the case are not available with the prosection.
However, dismissing his plea, a bench of Justice Raj Beer Singh observed that though the delay in trial is a relevant factor, there is no legal proposition that if the trial has not been concluded within a specific period, the proceedings of the case have necessarily to be quashed due to a delay in trial.
The Court also added that in this case, the delay in the trial occurred due to Surjewala, as he himself did not appear before the court for about two decades, despite the issuance of process against him and hence, there was no justification in quashing the proceedings on the ground of delay in commencement of trial.
In its order, the Court noted that Surjewala was continuously being summoned since the year 2001 by the Court, however, no coercive processes were issued to secure his presence and ultimately, when in August 2022, the court issued non-bailable warrants against him, he appeared before the court and the case was committed to the Court of Sessions in November 2022 and since then, Surjewala has been agitated about the matter on the issue like that complete and legible copies of the charge-sheet have not been supplied by the court.
Importantly, the Court was also of the view that merely because certain original documents sought by Surjewala, are not available on the record with the prosecution, it could not be ground to quash the impugned proceedings, more so, when said documents are neither part of the report under section 173(2) CrPC nor the same are being relied on by the prosecution.
In its order, the High Court also refused to direct the Trial Court to supply legible and readable copies of the charge sheet to him as it noted that the same has already been supplied to him and the trial court has already recorded its satisfaction that the copies supplied to him are legible.
The Court opined that merely because a few words are not legible or readable here and there, it cannot be a ground to again make any direction to the Trial Court in regard to the supply of copies.
The Court added that the issue regarding the chargesheet not being legible was being raised by him merely to delay the proceedings of the case.
Further, regarding the allegations against Surjewala in the case, the Court was of the view that given the allegations made in the FIR, and the material collected during the investigation, it could not be said that no prima facie case is made against him.
Lastly, the Court also dismissed his prayer challenging an order of the trial court (of August 10, 2023) wherein his Section 91 CrPC plea, seeking copies of the statements of the applicant-accused as well as his medical examination report and other evidence, had been dismissed.
In its order, the Court noted that ordinarily at the stage of charge, defence evidence cannot be considered and at the stage of charge, an application under section 91 CrPC is not maintainable at the instance of the accused.
“Thus, the accused has no right to seek the production of alleged documents by invoking provisions of section 91 CrPC. Even otherwise, the trial court has observed that as per the report of the police station, none of the documents, as sought to be summoned by the applicant, is available at the police station. Thus, there was no justification for making any direction to the police station to produce the said documents. The trial court has considered entire facts in correct perspective and dismissed the application by a reasoned order.”
In view of the aforesaid, finding no case for quashing of impugned proceedings, the Court dismissed his application under section 482 CrPC.
In related news, the Supreme Court on Thursday (09.11.2023) directed that the non-bailable warrant issued against Surjewala in this case be not executed for the next five weeks.
The bench comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Misra granted liberty to Surjewala to move to the trial court with an application to quash the warrant against him in four weeks.
Case title - Randeep Singh Surjewala vs. State Of UP And Another 2023 LiveLaw (AB) 440 [APPLICATION U/s 482 No. - 30646 of 2023]
Case Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (AB) 440
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