New Delhi: A magistrate has drawn flak from a Delhi court for summoning the chiefs of Air Force and Army as defence witness in a cheque bounce case, saying it was done "mechanically" and "without applying mind".
District and Sessions Judge R K Gauba questioned the summoning of the chiefs of two services in a private cheque bounce case of an ex-IAF official when the witness to be called as defence evidence was an official or clerk.
"It may be mentioned here that even though in the corresponding proceedings, the witness whose presence was sought to be secured for defence evidence was described as an official from Army Headquarters, for reasons that cannot be fathomed, the summons were issued for presence of Chief of the Air Staff.
"There has apparently been no approval taken from the trial magistrate for the Chief of Air Staff to be summoned, nor it was indicated as to what was the purpose of the said functionary to be called as a defence witness," he said.
The court also said there is no reason why summon was issued for the Army Chief even though Army Headquarters did not have the remotest connection in the case filed by ex-IAF official Dilawar Singh.
"It is not explained as to why summons were got issued in the name of Chief of Army Staff (and this was repeated several times) even though Army Headquarters did not have the remotest connection either with the matter at hand or even with Dilawar, who had been an employee of Air Force," it said.
The court was deciding a revision petition against the magistrate`s order in cheque bounce case initiated by Dilawar in 2003 against one Virpal Singh.
Virpal had moved a petition against the order of the magistrate refusing further opportunity to lead evidence in his defence as despite repeated summoning no witness had appeared.
A cost of Rs 20,000 was also imposed on Virpal for delaying the trial.
Dilawar had alleged a cheque of Rs 15.05 lakh issued to him by Virpal was dishonoured due to insufficient funds in his account. During trial, Virpal denied having issued any cheque.
In May 2008, Virpal had sought to lead evidence in his defence and summons were issued in the name of "Officials/ Clerk, Chief of Army Staff, Army Headquarters, Sena Bhawan."
No witness, however, appeared pursuant to the summons.
During the hearing on revision petition, Virpal said the `record clerk, chief of the Air Staff, Air Head Quarters` was expected to produce certain records regarding Dilawar`s dismissal from service in IAF.
The judge, however, was not convinced with his contention and said the magistrate had not applied mind to the question of relevancy and that "in a case of this nature, the question of reasons why (Dilawar) Singh left the services of Air Force is wholly irrelevant..."
Observing that in a criminal trial an accused is entitled to lead evidence in his defence, the court said "evidence in defence does not mean any kind of evidence" and "it must be relevant and germane to the controversy under adjudication."