New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) The Supreme Court was Wednesday urged to order that the charges and trial be quashed in the case of assassination of the then railway minister L.N. Mishra in a bomb attack 37 years ago in Bihar.
The plea was made by accused Ranjan Dwivedi, 64. He said the case had travelled to 22 different judges, witnessed the death of 31 material witnesses and four defence counsel in the last three decades.
The apex court bench of Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice C.K. Prasad said if they directed the closure of the case because it had dragged on for 37 years then it may send a wrong signal.
"We would be sending a wrong signal. It will be used by an intelligent accused to his advantage," Justice Dattu said.
The case relates to the throwing of a bomb at the dais where the minister was addressing a public meeting in Samastipur Jan 2, 1975. Mishra, injured in the attack, died in hospital the next day.
Senior counsel Tehmtan R. Andhyarujina, appearing for Dwivedi, told the court that in 37 years the trial had not been completed thereby causing great prejudice to his client.
"Whatever may be the circumstances, put an end to the case," he told the court.
"We agree (that) you have suffered," the court said.
Counsel said that if the court agreed that his client had suffered then "I (client) must get some relief".
Andhyarujina said: "Surely something is wrong with the system and the accused should not suffer for it."
He told the court that it could always say that its order in this case would not be treated as precedent.
The petitioner said that many elderly witnesses would face difficulty in recalling their evidence after such a long gap.
The trial had initially taken place in Bihar but the central government later shifted it to Delhi.