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|April 14, 1999||
Madras high court orders Jaya's trial in coal import scandal
The Madras high court today directed Special Judge-2 V Radhakrishnan to proceed with the trial in the multi-million-rupee coal import deal scandal in which All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary and former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalitha is the prime accused.
Justice Akbar Basha Kadri allowed a petition filed by the crime branch of the criminal investigation department of the state police and set aside the special judge's order that the case be kept in cold storage till the investigation in foreign countries is completed.
The judge observed that the prosecution could proceed with further investigation and file an additional or supplementary charge-sheet.
Further investigation may lead to collection of fresh materials favourable to the offenders or against them or implicating some more persons in the same offence. It may also lead to collection of materials indicating independent offences by some persons, he added.
If the trial is not proceeded with, there is every danger of the prosecution evidence getting diluted or witnesses forgetting the incident. Some may even vanish. That will cause greater harm to the prosecution case, he said.
He said the Supreme Court has held in several cases that criminal cases should be disposed of without delay. The law states that criminal proceedings should be held expeditiously and, in particular, directs that once a trial begins, the hearing should be conducted on a daily basis, unless there are exceptional reasons for adjournment.
Even when a supplementary charge-sheet was filed, it is open to the accused to raise the plea of discharge. Therefore, in no way is the accused put to any hardship, he pointed out.
Justice Kadri said the trial judge had approached the problem from the angle of the accused and forgot to apply his mind to the question from the prosecution angle.
He noted that in this case, the offence is said to have taken place in 1993-94. The charge-sheet was filed on April 2, 1997, and the trial court took cognisance of it in the last quarter of 1997. There are 58 witnesses and 46 documents. So it will take some time to record the available evidence. Meanwhile, the final report under section 173(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code may be filed.
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