Last week, the Delhi High Court issued a notice in a criminal case that has been lying dormant for over 23 years.
A man who is out on anticipatory bail, suddenly got reminded of a case against him which was initiated more than a couple of decades ago. When his application for getting a passport got rejected due to the pendency of criminal proceedings against him, he was made aware of the fact that he's still an undertrial.
In 1996. a complaint was lodged against the Petitioner at Mehrauli police station with regards to theft of certain share certificates of a company named Datamatics Ltd. These shares were originally purchased by the Petitioner's wife in 1993, who had then decided to transfer it to her husband three years later. On October 04, 1997, the Petitioner was summoned to the police station in respect to the said complaint, despite the fact that both him and his wife had been to the police station on several occasions and had provided all the information which was sought from them.
On the same day, the Petitioner had moved an application seeking anticipatory bail before the Patiala House Court, wherein he was granted interim relief till October 10. On 10/10/1997, the Additional Sessions Judge at Patiala House Court granted anticipatory bail to the Petitioner after the Investigating Officer made it clear that the Petitioner was no longer required for the investigation. It was also directed that in case a need arises to make the arrest, a prior notice of 7 days would have to be served to the Petitioner.
Thereafter, in 2000-2001, the police initiated the process for arresting the Petitioner. In light of the said development, Petitioner moved an application seeking anticipatory bail and the same was granted by the Patiala House Court by order dated January 12, 2001.
Petitioner now submits that since the year 2001, no progress has taken place in the present case. Moreover, as per his knowledge. No Investigation Report has also been filed in the aforesaid matter.
In 2017, the Petitioner had applied for grant of Passport, however, the same was rejected on the ground that a criminal case is pending against him. After getting such a response from the Passport authorities, he moved an application before the Trial Court in order to find out the stage of proceedings in the said case.
Subsequently, a status report was filed by the SHO, Mehrauli Police Station, wherein the following was submitted before the court:
'SI R.N. Choudhary had last taken the case file to the concerned Court for filing of Challan bearing RC No. 69/21. However, thereafter, no record/ case file/ documents pertaining to FIR No. 436/1996 were available with the P.S. Mehrauli.'
It was also discovered that no record/ case file/ documents pertaining to the present case is available with the Trial Judge at Saket Court. Therefore, an order was passed on May 05, 2017, wherein it was stated that the concerned person at Records Room, Saket Court would make his best effort to trace out of the case file.
However, the Petitioner claims that even the trial court does not have any records pertaining to the case filed against him in 1996.
Since the documents/case file pertaining to the present case are nowhere to be found, the Petitioner feels that the proceedings against him would not be able to proceed any further. However, despite the same, he continues to remain an undertrial accused in the said criminal case.
He also submits that the said pendency poses a source of great mental stress and agony, as also, curtailment of his rights as a citizen in terms of obtaining a passport.
In order to seek relief, the Petitioner moved an application before the Delhi High Court under section 482 of CrPC, asking the court to quash the said criminal proceedings against him.
While admitting the said plea, the Single Bench of Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri issued notice to the Delhi Government for submitting the status report before the next date of hearing.
The court has also asked for the requisitioning of the digitised copy of the trial court records. The matter will now be taken up on March 30.
In the present case, the Petitioner is being represented by Mr. Chetan Lokur and Mr. Nitish Chaudhary.
Click here to download the Order