New Delhi, July 26 (IANS) In a 37-year-old case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Thursday told the Supreme Court that an accused facing criminal proceedings could not seek its quashing merely on the ground of delay in trial.
"Mere delay, per se, could not be a ground for the quashing of charges and criminal proceedings," Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval told the apex court bench of Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice C.K. Prasad.
Raval, who appeared for the CBI, told the court that "it is neither advisable, nor practicable or judicially defensible to lay the outer limit of the trial of a case".
He was opposing a petition by Ranjan Dwivedi, 64, seeking quashing of charges and criminal proceedings in the 1975 case of assassination of the then railway minister L.N. Mishra in a bomb attack in Bihar.
Dwivedi 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.
He contended that the proceedings in the case had dragged for 37 years, violating his right to life and speedy justice.
Raval said the blame for the trial remaining inclusive could not be laid at the CBI's doorstep.
Urging the court to see who were responsible for the case dragging on for 37 years, Raval said that in the course of the proceedings the investigating agency had sought adjournment only thrice.
To buttress his plea, Raval took the court through the list of dates of the proceedings to show that the CBI could not be blamed for the delay.
Senior counsel Tehmtan R. Andhyarujina, who appeared for Dwivedi, contended that he had suffered due to the long trial which should be given quietus.
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.
The trial had initially taken place in Bihar but the central government later shifted it to Delhi. The recoding of statement of the accused took 10 years - from 1994-2004.