New Delhi, Aug 17: 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.
Another accused Sudevananda Avadhuta too had moved the court seeking quashing of proceedings.
A 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 the dragging of the case by the accused.
He said that the system has not failed. He said that 30 judges who presided over the trail court from time to time too could not be blamed, as they did their best to achieve the desired results.
Disagreeing with senior counsel T.R. Andhyarujina, appearing for Dwivedi, that the it was case of systemic failure, the court said: “We certainly say that our system has not failed, but, the accused was successful in dragging on the proceedings to a stage where, if it is drawn further, it may snap the justice delivery system.”
Pronouncing the order, Justice Dattu said: “We intend to say, particularly, looking into long adjournments sought by the accused persons, who are seven in number, that accused cannot take advantage or the benefit of the right of speedy trial by causing the delay and then use that delay in order to assert their rights”, the court said.
Justice Prasad, in a concurrent but separate judgment, said that he had given a “most anxious” consideration to the plea of Andhyarujina that delay of 37 years was barbaric, oppressive and atrocious and was violative of right of speedy trial guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
“I have given my most anxious consideration to the submission advanced and, at one point of time, in deference to his passionate appeal, I was inclined to consider this issue in detail and give a fresh look”, Justice Prasad said.
However, referring to the five judges and seven judges apex court constitution bench verdicts in Abdul Rehman Antulay case and in P. Ramachandra Rao case respectively, he said: “This course does not seem to be open to me”.
Noting judicial discipline expects them to consider the earlier decisions of the constitution benches, he said: “Hence, in my opinion, the trial cannot be terminated merely on the ground of delay without considering the reasons thereof.”
The case relates to the incident when a bomb was thrown at the dais where 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.