The Patna High Court, on Friday, set aside the criminal proceedings initiated against Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in a 28-year-old murder case.
Justice A. Amanullah opined that the prosecution was "mala fide, untenable and solely intended to harass" Mr. Kumar and therefore, quashed the proceedings. The CM was represented by senior counsel Surendra Singh, along with Advocate Gopal Singh.
In an FIR lodged on November 16, 1991, Mr. Kumar, the then Samata Party MP from Barh, was named as an accused, along with others, for the killing of one Sitaram Singh during the Lok Sabha polls that year. The ACJM, Barh had initiated criminal proceedings in the case in 2009. This was challenged by the CM before the Patna High Court the same year.
The high court now took note of the fact that Mr. Kumar had an alibi for the crime, as the then District Magistrate, Nalanda and the then Superintendent of Police, Nalanda had both categorically claimed that he was with them at the relevant time and in the District of Nalanda for the entire period of polling on the day of the incident.
The court further noted that the incident dates back to November, 1991 and that even though the complainant had given his statement to the police within a year of the incident, he did not take any step in the case before any court or authority. It pointed out that he filed this petition 16 years later, after the final report filed by the police had already been accepted by the lower court and proceedings had been quashed.
Besides, the court opined that a separate protest cum complaint was impermissible and observed, "Only upon the Court accepting the Final Report and closing the police case by not taking cognizance, can a separate complaint on the same facts based on a Protest-cum- Complaint Petition be legally valid and maintainable. In the present case, once cognizance was taken and process also issued against three named accused, the said case being still alive, a separate complaint was impermissible."
Highlighting the fact that the complainant had not given any explanation for the delay, the court further observed, "Though, stricto sensu, passage of time may not be a fatal fetter to a criminal proceeding of the nature of the present case, but where such inordinate and unexplained delay in the accompanying facts and circumstances strongly indicates some oblique reason, such delay also would weigh with the Court in deciding the issue."
Justice Amanullah went on to deprecate the conduct of various applicants in the case who had opposed Mr. Kumar's petition, and observed, "It appears the Court is being taken for a ride and a game is being played in the Court proceedings where one after the other, persons are trying to intervene in the matter, without any legal or justifiable reason, as if it is a kind of race where one person passes the baton to another once his game stands exposed and he is ousted from the race.
Such conduct not only needs to be thoroughly deprecated but is also required to be effectively and strictly dealt with so as to prevent such blatant and clear misuse and abuse of the process of the Court, as has been attempted by all the persons who have tried to unnecessarily and clearly with hidden agendas endeavoured to interfere in the present proceeding and in which they have been more than actively encouraged and supported by forces operating in the shadows."
The court further noted that one common thread in such applications was that they were all filed or routed through the office of Advocate Dinu Kumar. Additionally, Advocate Kumar had also withdrawn from the case earlier, but had then represented another applicant before it.
Opining that this cannot be "lightly brushed away or swept under the carpet", the court issued strictures against him, observing, "At this stage, at the cost of repetition, the Court would only observe that once Mr. Dinu Kumar, learned counsel had himself withdrawn from the case, it was not appropriate for him to be associated in any manner and persist with appearing in the matter by changing the persons by whom various petitions were filed. This, in the considered opinion of the Court, is indicative, both, of a personal vendetta to target the petitioner as well as the misuse of the process of the Court, clearly for oblique reasons, which totally lack any element of bona fide whatsoever."
The petition was then allowed and criminal proceedings were set aside.
Read the Judgment Here