Monday, September 20, 2010

Cannot allow HC writ recourse in corruption cases: Delhi High Court

Cannot allow HC writ recourse in corruption cases: Court

New Delhi 1,400 Corruption cases pending in the Delhi courts at present

While other doors are already shut on the city’s government officials trying to get FIRs in corruption cases slapped against them quashed, there is something more worrisome that may permanently close their option of moving the Delhi High Court by filing writ petitions — the only remedy left with them as on date.

Noting that the High Court should not entertain writ petitions filed by public servants who opt to challenge the orders of the special courts’ framing penal charges against them, a single judge bench of the Delhi High Court has sent the question to the Chief Justice to settle the matter.

An adverse order would also mean no more stays on the trials at the lower courts, where corruption cases lingering for decades is more a norm than an exception. Seized of over 30 petitions on the same issue, Justice S N Dhingra was of unequivocal opinion that when the High Court had already restrained the accused from challenging the lower courts’ orders under other legal provisions, they should not be allowed to do so by invoking the extraordinary jurisdiction of the court by way of writs.

According to Justice Dhingra, it was understood that the accused could not raise grievances against the framing of charges under Section 482 of the CrPC that gave the High Court “inherent powers” to pass orders to secure the ends of justice. Similarly, the revision petition was also not maintainable under the law. The High Court, therefore, should not let the accused take steps indirectly which could not be taken directly.

“The legislative intent, as expressed by the Prevention of Corruption Act, for speedier disposal of corruption cases cannot be allowed to be defeated by opening a back-door entry to the litigants for assailing orders on charge under the Constitution’s Article 227 (Power of superintendence over all courts by the High Court). It is evident from the fact that more than 30 petitions were initially filed as revision petitions but converted to writ petitions later by the order of the court. This shows that since the revision against order on charge was barred by statute, the court opened another door for doing what could not have been done by the petitioners due to the statutory prohibition,” noted Justice Dhingra.

The remedy of writs, according to the judge, was limited to ensure that trial courts did not overstep their authority, but it could not be stretched to examining evidence against the accused. Also, such petitions should not be entertained in view of the fact that corruption cases stretch for decades, the judge added.

“It is well-known that trials in corruption cases are not permitted to proceed easily and they take anything up to 20 years. One important reason for this is that the moment a charge is framed, every trial lands in the High Court and the order on charge is invariably assailed by litigants. The High Court, being flooded with such revision petitions, would take years deciding the revision petitions,” he observed.

Since there were two different views on the subject by two judges of the Delhi High Court, Justice Dhingra posted the question to Chief Justice Dipak Misra for referring it to a larger Bench. He, however, made it clear that there would be no stay of proceedings before the trial court in any of the cases.

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