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The Supreme Court has refused to interfere with the time frame fixed by the Uttarakhand High Court for disposal of a disproportionate asset case against a suspended senior Income Tax official. The top court, however, asked the prosecuting agency CBI to furnish the list of witnesses to be examined by it to the officer, Dr Swetabh Suman.
“We are not inclined to interfere with the time frame fixed by the High Court. However, if there is any difficulty, the petitioner is at liberty to approach the High Court to seek a clarification on this count,” a bench of Justices N V Ramana and S Abdul Nazeer said.
Senior advocate Vikramjit Banerji, appearing for CBI, said that out of 347 cited witnesses, 232 witnesses have already been examined. “The CBI has decided to drop 93 witnesses. Only 22 witnesses remain for examination in the trial court. The trial is going on a day-to-day basis and is likely to be completed at the earliest,” he said.
The bench then asked the CBI to furnish the list of 22 witnesses to the opposite party (Suman) within a week from the date of receipt of the order to enable him cross-examine and avoid any further delay.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Suman, said the Uttarakhand High Court at Nainital on March 10, 2017, had fixed a time line of six months to complete the trial. He said the trial judge had twice moved an application before the high court seeking an extension of time to complete the trial in view of a large number of witnesses.
Singh said that due to the time frame fixed by the high court, the trial judge is not in a position to complete the trial, which was affecting the case of the petitioner. The bench noted that on January 4, the high court had extended the time by three more months to complete the trial and said it was not inclined to interfere with the time frame fixed by it.
CBI had registered a case against Suman on August 2, 2005 under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act and section 109 of IPC for possession of disproportionate assets worth Rs 55,11,214 in his own name, in the names of his mother and family members and others during the period from April 1, 1997 to March 31, 2004.
CBI had filed the chargesheet in the case in 2010. In the chargesheet, CBI had alleged that Suman had amassed assets which prima facie appeared to be disproportionate to his known sources of income.