A division bench of justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S Oka, while dismissing a special leave petition (SLP), said in their order: “However, we must note with some consideration that the FIR was registered in the year 1990 and 32 years hence the trial is not complete.”
The SC asked the trial court to conduct the hearings “on almost a day-to-day basis” and ensure that the trial is completed within six months. The order was passed on November 7.
According to the National Judicial Data Grid (NJDG), there are 1,282 cases in various courts in Bengal that were registered in 1990. Cases which are over three-decades-old comprise 0.5% of the total criminal cases pending in various Bengal courts. In Kolkata, courts are hearing 127 cases that were lodged in 1990.
The oldest criminal cases being heard in Bengal, however, date back to 1967. Two are being heard in South 24 Parganas, the remaining in Malda. Around a sixth of the pending 64,470 pending criminal cases across India are being heard across Bengal.
The NJDG lists “one or more accused absconding/not appearing” as the primary reason why courts are unable to dispose of matters. The other reasons are “non-availability of lawyers” and “important witnesses haven’t deposed”.
According to the petitioner’s lawyer, Ayan Bhattacharjee, this case is being heard by the Metropolitan Magistrate’s court in Kolkata. This relates to a CBI probe (R.C.14/SCB/90-Calcutta dated November 30, 1990) under multiple sections of IPC relating to cheating, fraud and criminal conspiracy.
A person, who was implicated by the CBI, had moved court seeking his discharge for want of evidence. His appeal was first heard by a Kolkata district and sessions court and later by Calcutta High Court. This person moved Supreme Court against an HC February 2022 order refusing to provide him relief.
The case relates to two employees of Bharat Overseas Bank’s Burrabazar branch giving cash-credit facilities to a private entity allegedly flouting rules. CBI has filed a charge sheet.