Updated: August 28, 2021 9:11:44 am
RESERVING ITS order on a Central Bureau of Investigation plea on the INX Media case, the Delhi High Court Friday told the agency that it cannot continue probing the cheating and corruption case at its leisure while withholding from the accused — Congress leader P Chidambaram, his son Karti Chidambaram and others — documents that may help them prove their innocence.
The court was hearing the petition filed by the CBI against a trial court order directing it to produce and supply to the accused persons all the documents collected or statements recorded by it during the investigation. The trial court, in its March 5 order, had also permitted the accused to conduct inspections of the record lying in the CBI ‘malkhana’ (warehouse). The High Court on May 18 stayed the trial proceedings in the case.
The CBI Friday told the High Court that the accused cannot be allowed inspection of the documents. “In a related matter the Supreme Court has observed that secrecy is very important during the investigation and if we disclose all documents to them, there is a chance that they will be tampered with and that is what is going to happen even now,” CBI counsel Anupam S Sharma argued.
Justice Mukta Gupta observed that the trial can then remain stayed till the investigation is completed. “You say ‘I will proceed with the trial, I will proceed with the investigation and I will not give the documents which may be exculpatory, which they may want to use but you still face the music’,” it added.
Sharma submitted that with regard to the offences mentioned in the chargesheet, the required documents have already been supplied. The court then observed: “Which is the other offence you are investigating? Murder?”
The court told the CBI that it may have filed a chargesheet related to one transaction but it cannot continue to investigate the other transactions at its own pace and keep the documents with itself. “I think the law has just gone berserk. We are forgetting what the basic criminal law is and proceeding in the way we want the law to proceed which is not permissible,” it observed.
Referring to a Supreme Court judgment in which it has been held that a list of those documents, which are seized but not relied on by the prosecution, also should be furnished to the accused so that they can seek appropriate orders for their production, Justice Gupta said: “The para 11 in the judgement of the Supreme Court has come for agencies like you only who are creating hurdles in every matter”.
Observing that the issue of inspection has been settled by the Supreme Court and it was bound by the apex court judgment, the court said it may recover a thousand documents and then selectively rely on 500.
“Now the rest of the documents may be the chain showing that there is some other transaction or some other issue involved or their exculpatory… because the accused does not have (them) in his presence. he is forbidden to rely upto, he cannot use them on their defence… because you don’t rely, he cannot rely. At least he can ask, the court can then look into whether it is of some material and then pass an order,” it added.
CBI in the petition before High Court has argued that there is neither any provision in CrPC which “casts a duty upon the investigating agency to forward to court documents on which it does not rely upon” nor is there is any provision which empowers the Magistrate to allow the accused to inspect the documents which are neither filed in court nor relied upon by the prosecution.
The central agency also has contended that the accused cannot claim an “indefeasible right” to claim every document of the police file or even the portions which are permitted to be excluded from the documents annexed to the chargesheet. The court cannot assist the accused in search of a plausible defence, the CBI has further argued. “It is the basic principle of criminal law that though it is the duty of the prosecution to prove its case, however the accused is supposed to either give the true version before the Court or remain silent. An accused cannot build a false or imaginary defence, after examining the documents,” reads the petition.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.