Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
Top Stories

'Not A Desirable Position' : Supreme Court On Consent Requests Of CBI Pending Before States [Full Courtroom Exchange]

Sohini Chowdhury
8 Nov 2021 1:14 PM GMT
Not A Desirable Position : Supreme Court On Consent Requests Of CBI Pending Before States [Full Courtroom Exchange]
x

The Supreme Court on Monday (8th November) observed that it was "not a desirable position" that several CBI cases have hit a roadblock due to the pendency of requests for specific sanctions before State Governments which have withdrawn their general consent for the investigation by the central agency.A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh made this observation after...

The Supreme Court on Monday (8th November) observed that it was "not a desirable position" that several CBI cases have hit a roadblock due to the pendency of requests for specific sanctions before State Governments which have withdrawn their general consent for the investigation by the central agency.

A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and MM Sundresh made this observation after taking note of the statement made in the CBI's affidavit that 150 requests seeking specific sanction are pending with the Governments of Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Kerala, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Mizoram during the period from 2018 to June 2021.

The CBI, which was responding to an order passed by the bench on September 3 asking it to explain the low success rate and high pendency, stated in its affidavit that since these 8 states have withdrawn their general consent for CBI in terms of Section 6 of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, the agency is constrained to seek specific consent in each case.

The second bottleneck mentioned by the CBI was the stay orders passed by appellate courts and High Courts. It was mentioned that investigation in 11327cases have been stayed.

Taking serious note of these issues, the bench referred the matter before the Chief Justice of India for consideration.

The matter emanates from an application filed by the CBI along with the main appeal, seeking condonation for an inordinate delay of 542 days. The Top Court was concerned about the "gross incompetence in the legal department of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which raises serious questions of efficacy to prosecute the cases" and on 24.01.2020 directed the CBI to file an affidavit within two weeks explaining such delays.

On perusal of the affidavit, on 07.02.2020, a displeased Court remarked:

"We fail to appreciate how the file remained pending for comments of the Deputy Legal Advisor in the office of Head of Branch from 9th May, 2018 to 19th January, 2019 i.e. no call being taken on this issue and the explanation given is that this Cell was handling over about 95 cases. Firstly, that number is not extraordinary and secondly, it is for the petitioner to take a call as to how many persons are required to manage their affairs. It appears that the file was also lying with the learned Additional Solicitor General for about two months,"

Rebuking the litigation practices of the agency (CBI), wherein petitions are repeatedly being filed after a considerable delay, the Apex Court finally directed the Director to file the current affidavit on 03.09.2021, indicating the steps undertaken to facilitate proper functioning of the prosecution unit and also to point out the bottlenecks causing impediment.

Senior Advocate, Mr. Sanjay Jain, ASG appearing before the Court, at the outset submitted that the affidavit in compliance of the order dated 03.09.2021 had been filed by the Director, CBI. He stated: "Now that the affidavit is before your Lordship, I am entirely in your hand."

Observing that apart from delay the affidavit raised some more concerns, it noted -

"You have raised delay and also some concerns, which seem problematic. Turn to page 7. There are 150 cases pending for sanction."

"Because of the peculiar nature of Delhi Police Establishment Act." - stated Mr. Sanjay Jain, ASG, accepting the multitude of cases pointed out by the Bench.

Apart from the cases pending sanction, another issue that struck a chord with the Bench was the number of cases stayed by Appellate Courts. It observed that -

"Second concern from para 16 - stay order granted by appellate courts. Cases have been filed...11327 cases are stayed."

Confirming the data. Mr. Sanjay Jain, ASG added -

"11327 cases filed by accused and 931 filed by CBI."

Thereafter, in the context of the application of delay at hand the Bench posed a question before the Learned ASG -

"Who have you held responsible for the delay as far as this case is concerned? Refer to our order of 7th Feb."

Mr. Sanjay Jain, ASG's short response to the query put to him was -

"I'll be very candid. In this matter delay was not unavoidable...Should have shown greater alacrity."

Identifying the deeper problem in the matter of delay, the Bench noted -

"The problem is nobody is made accountable. People sit on it."

The Bench sternly remarked -

"You have said in the affidavit that it's 'inadvertent'. It is incompetence."

Bowing down to the Bench , Mr Sanjay Jain, ASG accepted -

"In this context 'inadvertable' is a defensive expression."

On perusal of the affidavit, the Bench noted that in the context of the present case there was no justifiable reason or excuse for such inordinate delay. Noticing that the affidavit reflects an enquiry is being conducted for affixing responsibility for the delay, the Bench observed -

"As per the affidavit an enquiry is being conducted to ascertain as to who is responsible.So far so good. But saying that delay is inadvertent...It is not respectable of the functioning of the organisation...We are to affix responsibility on the officer responsible for delay, 542 days of delay. Deposit a cost of INR 25000 within 4 weeks to be recovered from the officers responsible. The inquiry to be concluded within a maximum of 4 weeks from today. Application allowed."

Moving onto the bottlenecks that have been pointed out in the affidavit, two concerns especially stood out so as to grab the Top Court's attention - i. Number of cases pending sanction and ii. the number of cases stayed. In this regard the Court noted -

"We are however concerned with some of the aspects in the affidavit in the context to be taken. On the bottlenecks pointed out in para 13 the fact that 150 requests pending with Govt of Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Kerala and Mizoram for grant of specific sanction. These requests have allegations of cheating, forgery…and also bank fraud...18% cases of corrupt public servants...78% of cases are said to be pending...Not a desirable position. The second aspect is the stay order granted by appellate courts. Despite this court issuing parameters in this regard...data is yet to be placed before court… Both the aforesaid aspects need to be addressed in Public Interest Litigation with notice sent to concerned states and HCs...We deem it apt to place this aspect before the CJI for his speculation. Two aspects are - cases pending due to stay orders and non grant of sanction. Let CJI take separate calls."

"Come to the main appeal", stated the Bench, after addressing the issues pointed out in the affidavit filed by CBI. The Bench directed the Petitioner (CBI) to complete service with the liberty to thereafter mention the matter for early hearing.

CaseTitle : Central Bureau Of Investigation & Anr. v. Mohammad Altaf Mohand & Anr ;  Special Leave Petition (Criminal) Diary No(S). 45871/2019

Click Here To Read/ Download Order

Next Story