Delhi HC rejects RIL plea to quash CBI case against it

Delhi HC rejects RIL plea to quash CBI case against it

The company is facing criminal case under the Official Secrets Act for the alleged recovery of some secret documents during search of the office premise of V Balasubramanian, the then Group President of Reliance Industries, in 1998.

A criminal case was filed but considering the sensitivity of the case, investigation was handed over to the CBI which registered a complaint in 2002.

The company had contended that the CBI failed to register the complaint within the time frame of three years and as such it should not have been proceeded.

However, the High Court refused to accept the contention that 142 days' delay in registering the complaint could be a ground to quash the proceedings before the trial court.

Justice S N Dhingra accepted the CBI's plea that the delay in registering the complaint had occurred as it was seeking the opinion of the Attorney General and Solicitor General, whether the company can be made party to the case.

"I, therefore, find that the explanation given by the CBI for delay in filing the complaint was rightly accepted by the learned CMM and rightly upheld by the learned ASJ," Justice Dhingra said.

Since there was a delay in registering the complaint, the agency had approached the trial court for condoning the delay which was granted.

The company had challenged the decision in the High Court contending that the delay was wrongly condoned and order of the trial court was illegal as no due diligence on the part of the CBI had been shown in filing the complaint within three years and therefore it was barred by limitation.

However, the plea by Reliance Industries was rejected by the court observing that the CBI has given good reasons for not filing the complaint within the prescribed period and the condonation granted by the trial court was without any fallacy.

"In the present case the CBI has given good and valid reasons why the complaint could not be filed within the time despite the fact that the investigation had been completed much before the period of limitation.

"I consider that if an investigating agency seeks opinion whether a corporation can be made accused on the basis of evidence collected during investigation, it cannot be said that the investigating agency acted without due diligence," the judge said.

The court also rejected the contention of the company that indiscriminate condonation of delay on flimsy ground takes away its right of speedy trial which emanates from Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

"So long as courts in India are generous in entertaining the petitions against interim and interlocutory orders and in granting stays but have no time to dispose them of with same speed at which they are admitted and so long we succumb to the culture of adjournments as prevalent, the speedier trial of criminal cases in case of powerful persons and in case of persons with money, is a distant dream," the court said.

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