NRHM scam: SC asks CBI to examine 'vital witnesses' in 3 mths

 The Supreme Court bench was critical of the probe agency for not being able to examine key witnesses in the four NRHM cases so far.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rapped the CBI for delay in examining vital witnesses in the multi-crore rupee National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam cases, in which former Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister Babu Singh Kushwaha is one of the accused, and asked it to complete the job within three months.

The bench was also critical of the probe agency for not being able to examine key witnesses in the four NRHM cases so far and made it clear that the accused may be granted bail by the trial court if CBI defaulted in examining witnesses.

"Incarceration cannot go on for forever. It is unacceptable. You (CBI) give us the time-frame by which you would examine the witnesses otherwise we will grant them bail," the bench observed at the outset.

"We are inclined to direct the prosecution (CBI) that it has three months to examine the witnesses which it considers vital for their case," the bench said.

The bench, comprising Justices T S Thakur and P C Pant, asked the CBI to produce the key witnesses before the trial court for recording of statements and said that pendency of applications filed by some of the accused seeking alteration of charges will come in the way of trial.

The apex court, which further asked the accused including Kushwaha not to delay the trial court proceedings, also directed the CBI not to add many witnesses as "vital" in the list of persons to be examined by it.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for Kushwaha, said the accused has been in jail for the last three years and eight months and astonishingly, CBI has not examined considerable number of witnesses in any of the four cases registered against him.

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