‘Trial of influential persons must be monitored by designated Judge’

The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to all the States on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition, seeking speedy trial of criminal cases pending in various courts against politicians, bureaucrats and other influential persons.

A Bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and V. Gopala Gowda issued notice on the petition filed by Virender Kumar Ohri. The court in 2004 issued notice to the Centre and sought the views of the Law Commission.

The Law Commission in its report said “the cases of influential persons in public life need to come up for special focus for the reason that the experience shows occurrence of long delays both in investigation and trial. This is because of the influence they can wield with the police and witnesses. Delays are also often caused by their prolonged abstinence from the court proceedings and the Police not taking effective steps to produce them in Court.”

Appearing for the petitioner counsel Prashant Bhushan said: “The trial of all the ‘influential persons’ should be monitored by the designated Judge of the concerned High Court. There should be a cell in every High Court whose duty shall be to collect information and particulars from all the subordinate courts in respect of cases involving influential persons. Top priority should be given to the Sessions cases especially those related to influential public persons which are more than 5 years old (or even less depending on the workload position). The High Court Committee concerned should bestow special attention to such cases and review the progress from time to time so that the trial concludes most expeditiously.”

The petitioner submitted that it appeared that the wheel of criminal justice system did not move at all and every strategy was being adopted to delay and frustrate the trial in such cases. State machinery was also being used to seek withdrawal of charges on absurd grounds. The petitioner sought a direction to all the States to ensure that the trial of influential persons was taken up and completed expeditiously under the supervision of the respective High Courts.