SC dismisses plea to quash 37-year-old case

The Supreme Court Friday dismissed the petition of Ranjan Dwivedi, one of the accused in the 1975 assassination of then railway minister L.N. Mishra in a bomb attack in Bihar, for quashing his trial on the ground of an inordinate delay of 37 years.

The apex court bench of Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice C.K. Prasad directed the trial court to conclude the trial as early as possible by holding a day to day hearing of the case. The court also directed the trial court not to entertain any plea for unwarranted adjournment.

Delivering the judgment, Justice Dattu said that the delay in the completion of trial in no way reflected any systemic failure but was on account of judging of the case by the accused.

Justice Prasad, in a concurrent but separate judgment, said that a justice delivery system that allows long delays in the conclusion of the trial was "barbaric and oppressive".

Justice Prasad said he would have preferred to have a fresh look at the case regarding the long time taken and the trial still going on but he was bound by the earlier constitution bench judgment which does not prescribe any time limit for the conclusion of trial.

The case relates to the incident when a bomb was thrown at the dais where the then railway minister L.N. Mishra was addressing a public meeting in Samastipur in Bihar Jan 2, 1975. Mishra, injured in the attack, succumbed in hospital the following day.

Dwivedi is one of the accused who threw a bomb at the dais when Mishra was addressing the meeting.

The trial started in Bihar but was later shifted to Delhi.

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