In a significant development, the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday took suo moto cognizance regarding Delayed Investigation in Criminal Cases.
The Bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Arijit Banerjee noted that as per the information received, there are 999 cases where the charge sheet had not been filed within the time permitted in different statutes. Some of the cases are more than a decade old.
The matter in brief
In terms of an order dated January 29, 2021 passed by the Jalpaiguri Bench, information was received from the Criminal Investigation Department of the State of West Bengal which was placed before the Chief Justice (Acting), and the matter was directed to be taken on the judicial side as a PIL for the reason that delayed investigation and filing of charge sheet in Court in cases involving heinous crimes does not reflect good on the investigating agency.
The Court noted that the reasons assigned for non-filing of charge sheets within the time permitted are:
- Pendency of the investigation,
- Non-receipt of reports from different laboratories,
- The sanction for prosecution,
- The arrest of the accused,
- Experts opinion,
- Collection of relevant documents etc.
To this, the Court asked Kishore Datta, the Advocate General to go through the information received from the Criminal Investigation Department of the State of West Bengal and to apprise the Court as to whether there are any other cases where charge sheets have not been filed within the time permitted.
Further, the Court directed that it be apprised as regards the infrastructure available in different laboratories in the State with reference to the fact that the testing facilities have to be such where the reporting is not delayed as a result of which the filing of the charge sheet or investigation of a case delayed.
The Court also observed that of the infrastructure is required to be updated or augmented, a plan, therefore, should also be placed before the Court.
Significantly, the Court added:
"Whenever the charge sheets have not been filed for want of sanction, the reasons therefore and the officers concerned who are sitting tight over the file in not granting sanction for prosecuion, be placed before the Court."
Lastly, the Registrar General of the Court was directed to collect information from all the courts in the State of West Bengal as regards the cases in which the charge sheets have not been filed in Court within the time permissible in law.
The information has been directed to be placed before the Court before the next date of hearing in a tabulated form, district-wise.
The matter has been adjourned to June 28, 2021.