Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday asked Maharashtra`s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to explain why it took seven years to file a chargesheet in a disproportionate assets case against a former excise inspector.
Reshma Singh, facing trial along with Manjitsingh Khera, a former inspector of Flying Squad of Excise Department, and others had moved the High Court, saying the whole case should be quashed because of delays.
The finances of Khera, who allegedly acquired assets worth Rs 43 lakh between 1980 and 1990, came under scanner of authorities in 1982. However, an FIR under Prevention of
Corruption Act was filed in 1992 after a raid was conducted on his houses in Mumbai, Nagpur, Aurangabad.
Further, a chargesheet was filed in 1999 and recording of evidence began only last year, said Singh`s lawyer. Subjecting an accused person to such a delayed proceeding violates his/her fundamental right to liberty under Article 21 of Constitution, he maintained.
Interestingly, ACB made Singh a co-accused saying she was Khera`s daughter, and he had purchased some of the properties in her name. But Singh`s case is she was not his daughter, and he was merely a "family friend" of her parents, Major A B Singh and Mini Kaur.
A Division Bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar and Pramod Kode said it would not go into these facts, but asked the prosecution to explain the delay. Prosecutor Ajay Gadkari argued that defendants frequently sought adjournments, which slowed the trial.
But the court was not satisfied with this reply. "Why you took seven years to file a chargesheet? You will have to offer explanation," Justice Khanwilkar said.
Saying that this delay -- from 1992 to 1999 -- must be explained, the court allowed prosecution to file an affidavit in this regard. Others named in the chargesheet include Khera`s relatives. The court has adjourned the hearing till October 8.