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Calcutta High Court Lambasts CBI’s Delay in Filing Appeal

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Published on: February 11, 2024 at 17:26 IST

The Calcutta High Court, in a scathing rebuke, has criticized the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and its Director for failing to file an appeal within the stipulated limitation period.

Justice Bibhas Ranjan De, presiding over a single bench, expressed astonishment at the CBI’s conduct in crucial matters and deemed the delay unacceptable.

The plea for condonation of the delay in filing a special leave to appeal was granted in the interest of justice. Justice De emphasized the importance of the CBI adhering to its latest updated manual and denounced the sluggishness in this particular case.

The judge held the Director of CBI responsible, stating that the delay could not be termed anything other than deliberate, which is deemed intolerable.

The appeal, filed by the CBI, contested the acquittal order of six accused in a fraud case against Canara Bank involving Rs 2.19 crores in 2000, under Section 378(4) of the CrPC. The application for condonation of delay, spanning 1452 days, or nearly four years, accompanied the appeal.

The Court deliberated on whether sufficient cause had been demonstrated for the delay by the CBI to warrant condonation.

The CBI attributed the delay to the lengthy bureaucratic process involved in obtaining permission from higher authorities, exacerbated by challenges during the COVID lockdown, particularly the vacant office of the Additional Solicitor General for almost ten months.

Opposing counsel argued against condonation, asserting that the delay was due to the CBI’s casual approach, lacking sufficient cause, and providing a vague explanation.

The argument contended that bureaucratic red tape should not serve as an excuse for a premier institution like the CBI, equipped with modern technology.

While the Court acknowledged the special obligation of government departments, such as the CBI, to perform their duties diligently, it found the CBI’s arguments for the four-year delay unconvincing.

Despite this, the Court, in the interest of justice, chose to condone the delay and permit the filing of the appeal.

Case Title: CBI v Binod Kr Maheshwari,