The Gauhati High Court ruled that a step-motherly treatment when the “State” is the applicant praying for condonation of delay has to be avoided.
The respondents, namely, Mukul Talukdar, Biswa Kumar Das, Lakhiram Das @ Lakshmi Ram Das, Jommy Mele, Om Prakash Kharakwala, Suresh Chandra Kandpa, stood trial in Special Case, under Sections 120B/420/465/468/471 IPC read with Section 13(2) read with Section 13(1) (d) of Prevention of Corruption Act, for misappropriation of public funds. It was alleged that they have misappropriated the sum by floating bogus production companies in the names of their family members, getting the programmes made by these bogus companies approved for telecast and collecting and encashing the crossed cheques favouring these bogus firms from the banks, in gross abuse of their official position, thereby causing a wrongful loss to the Door Darshan Kendra.
Advocate Das, appearing for the applicant, submitted that the judgment was delivered on 06.12.2017, and certified copy of the judgment was obtained on 11.12.2017, and thereafter, as per norms it was sent for opinion of Law Officer on 13.12.2017, and the same was obtained on 27.12.2017 and thereafter, comment of Head Of Department (Applicant/Appellant herein) was prepared and sent the same to him on 10.01.2018, recommending filing of appeal against the acquittal. Thereafter, DIG (Range), CBI, Guwahati has given his comment and comment of ALA, CBI, New Delhi was also obtained. Thereafter comment of Director of Prosecution was obtained on 23.03.2018, and finally approval for filing appeal against the acquittal was obtained on 04.04.2018. Thereafter, approval from the Under Secretary (V-II), Department of Personal & Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pension, Govt. of India, New-Delhi was received on 01.06.2018. Thereafter draft appeal along with the petition for condonation of delay was prepared and sent to the retaining counsel of CBI for taking further steps.
She further submitted that while observing all these formalities delay of 313 days occurred and the same was neither deliberate nor it was intentional.
Advocate D.K. Das, appearing for the respondents, submitted that the delay has not been properly explained by the applicant.
He pointed out that the judgment was pronounced on 06.12.2017, and the certified copy was obtained on 11.12.2017, and the appeal, along with the leave petition and the petition for condonation of delay, was filed on 21.12.2018.
The single judge bench of Justice Robin Phukan observed that “sufficient cause” in Section 5 of the Limitation Act must receive a liberal construction so as to advance substantial justice. There should be an explanation for every day’s delay does not mean that a pedantic approach should be made. There should be a liberal, justice-oriented, non-pedantic, but, pragmatic approach while dealing with an application for condonation of delay.
The court said that the concept of liberal approach has to encapsulate the conception of reasonableness and it cannot be allowed totally to unfettered free play. The law of limitation binds everybody, including the Government. However, the State or a public body or an entity representing a collective cause should be given some acceptable latitude.
The court added that keeping these principles in mind while the ‘explanation’, so forthcoming, for the delay of 313 days is examined the case; it is left unimpressed with the submissions, so advanced by Ms. Das, the counsel for the applicant.
The court stated that it is apparent that there is no explanation at all for the delay, after approval for filing appeal against acquittal by the Department of Personal & Training, Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pension, Govt. of India, on 01.06.2018, till filing of the appeal on 21.12.2018.
The court found no merit in the petition and accordingly dismissed the same.
Case title: Director, central bureau of investigation (cbi) v/s mukul talukdar and 5 ors
Citation: Case No. : I.A.(Crl.)/40/2019