Assets case against Chautala: Delhi court allows CBI to bring 97 more witnesses

Special CBI Judge Manu Rai Sethi allowed CBI plea to lead 97 additional prosecution witnesses and 44 documents,which the agency claimed could not be filed earlier on account of “inadvertence”.

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: April 14, 2014 3:39 pm

A Delhi court Monday allowed CBI to bring 97 additional witnesses,missed out earlier due to “inadvertence”,against INLD leader Abhay Chautala,younger son of five-time Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala facing trial in a disproportionate assets (DA) case.

Special CBI Judge Manu Rai Sethi allowed CBI plea to lead 97 additional prosecution witnesses and 44 documents,which the agency claimed could not be filed earlier on account of “inadvertence”.

Allowing CBI’s plea,the judge said,“In considered opinion of this Court,charge sheet cannot be deemed to be a document which cannot later on be supplemented. In case there is any lapse on part of Investigating Officer or even of the Investigating Agency in not placing on record complete list of witnesses and documents at the initial stage,obviously,prosecution should not be made to suffer for the same…”

A DA case was registered against Abhay in 2009 for owning assets worth over five times his income of Rs 22.89 crore,as per the income tax records,during 2000-05. The CBI claimed to have found assets worth Rs 119.69 crore.

CBI had in its original charge sheet against him annexed a list of 141 documents and 160 witnesses.

During arguments,Abhay’s counsel Harish Sharma vehemently opposed CBI’s plea saying the charge sheet in the matter was filed in December,2009 while the FIR was registered in 2006 and it took nearly four years for CBI to realise that due to inadvertence some documents and witnesses remained to be brought on record.

He also said charges were framed against Abhay in July 2011 and since then many prosecution witnesses have already been examined and CBI had for some reasons chosen not to file complete documents.

Alleging that there was a systematic failure in chain of CBI officers who looked in to the matter and cleared the charge sheet,Abhay’s counsel argued that great prejudice would be caused to his client if CBI’s plea is allowed as it would mean “facing a de-novo trial.” He also said there is no provision in Criminal Procedure Code to allow CBI’s plea.

However,giving the CBI time till June 6 to file the list of documents and witnesses,the court clarified that if any of the additional documents relate to any witness who has already been examined,the accused would be at liberty to recall the witness for further cross-examination.

CBI had registered three disproportionate assets cases against O P Chautala,MLA Ajay Chautala and Ajay Chautala on a complaint filed by Haryana Congress leader Shamsher Singh Surjewala.

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