The Supreme Court on Friday refused to quash the trial in the 1975 murder case of the then Railway Minister L N Mishra, saying proceedings cannot be terminated merely because they have not been concluded in the past 37 years.
A bench of justices H L Dattu and C K Prasad dismissed a plea filed by an accused, 65-year-old advocate Ranjan Dwivedi, who had pleaded that the trial be terminated as it had not been concluded in 37 years and was still going on.
Although the two judges concurred on the issue of dismissing the petition, they differed in their reasoning. While Justice Dattu blamed the accused for dragging the trial, Justice Prasad was sympathetic towards the accused but refused to grant any relief on the ground that the apex court's two Constitution Bench judgments did not allow passing of an order in favour of the petitioner.
Mishra was killed in a bomb blast at a function at Samastipur Railway station in Bihar on January 3, 1975, and Dwivedi, who was 24 years old at that time, was made an accused along with four members of Anand Marga group, one of whom has died.
The chargesheet in the case was filed on November 1,1977 in a Central Bureau of Investigation court in Patna. In 1979, the case proceedings were shifted to the national capital after the then attorney general had made a plea in the apex court. On July 25, this year, the apex court had commenced hearing the petition filed by Dwivedi for quashing of the trial in the case on the ground of extraordinary delay of 37 years.
The CBI had opposed his plea and had said since the trial was at the stage of conclusion, it should be allowed to continue to its logical end.
The bench had said it would scrutinise the aspect of delay after 1991 as the apex court had in that year dealt with the Mishra case along with other cases in which it was held that speedy trial was the fundamental right of the accused under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The apex court had reserved its order in the case on July 31.