New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has rejected the plea of an accused, facing trial along with other 13 Indian Mujahideen suspects in the 2008 serial blasts cases, challenging its administrative order to transfer the trials to another court.
Dismissing the plea of Mohd Shakeel, who challenged the court`s August 3 administrative order to transfer all cases from Tis Hazari court to Patiala House court, a bench led by Justice S Ravindra Bhat said, "If the plea is allowed it would set a dangerous precedent."
The bench also comprising Justice Najmi Waziri said, "This court is unable to locate any principled justification to say that a particular case or trial should continue on the file of a particular judge, because a large number of witnesses` depositions were recorded by him.
"Doing so would, to this court`s mind, be setting a dangerous precedent, fuelling similar demands for diverse considerations, adding to the court`s already strained docket, a new class of litigation unnecessarily."
Shakeel in his plea said transfer of the cases would cause delay and prejudice to the accused persons as more than 197 prosecution witnesses had already been examined and only 30-40 more witnesses remain to be examined in the Tis Hazari court.
In the plea, he said, "The transfer of the cases is likely to result in avoidable delay in the proceedings... And subsequently because the transferee court is burdened with all cases arising from investigations conducted by the Special Cell of Delhi Police."
The petition also said, "It is in the interests of justice that the judge who has had the advantage of seeing the evidence first-hand and of examining all the relevant witnesses, is allowed to conclude the trial and adjudicate the guilt or innocence of the petitioner."
"The trial is at an advanced stage - 197 witnesses have already been examined and only 30-40 witnesses are left to be examined. Almost the entire trial has been conducted by the judge currently presiding over the cases. Allowing cases to be transferred at this belated stage would have no beneficial effect and would have a deleterious effect...," it said.
Rejecting the arguments of accused, the bench said "... Indeed, to interdict the administrative power of the high court to transfer a class of cases between courts under its supervisory jurisdiction with general concerns of individual cases (for example, delays, or a concern that the current judge is familiar with the matter) would unduly, and indeed, incorrectly, restrain the power of the high court, and cannot be accepted."
Shakeel and the other accused are facing trial in five separate cases for their alleged involvement in the September 13, 2008 blasts that rocked Karol Bagh, Connaught Place, Greater Kailash and India Gate leaving 26 people dead and 133 injured.