SC notice to Centre on Bofors case trial

NEW DELHI, AUG. 30. The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Centre to inform whether adequate steps were contemplated for speedy disposal of sensitive cases such as the Bofors pay-off case by appointing Additional Judges.

A bench comprising Mr. Justice M.B. Shah and Mr. Justice R.P. Sethi issued the notice after considering the report of the special judge in the Bofors case that it would take two to three years to complete the trial. If the Bofors case alone was entrusted to him, it would take at least a year to conclude the trial, considering the voluminous documents in the case, the judge had stated.

In response to the apex court's direction, the Special Judge, Mr. S.L. Khanna sent a report stating that over 300 cases

were pending before him and expressed his helplessness in expediting the Bofors case trial.

The bench, while granting three weeks time to the Centre, wanted the Union Government to inform whether ``this was the state of affairs in the capital and this appears to be the state of affairs in the trial courts elsewhere in the country''.

The bench said ``something is required to be done to ensure the speedy trial of the cases as delay in trial entitled the accused bail, who then posed danger to the society. Additional judges need to be appointed. If the present position remains, what will happen to the society? The accused will get bail after sometime and then the society will suffer. The witnesses will turn hostile.''

The judges observed that lingering of the cases would ``shake the confidence of people in the judiciary. Once the confidence of people in judiciary is shaken, nothing will survive''.

The bench, which passed this order on the application of the Hinduja brothers, said it would not alter the interim order allowing only two brothers to go abroad and if any of the brothers came back to India, the one here could apply to go abroad.