The Supreme Court Monday said it is "not a desirable position" that requests sent by the CBI to eight states, including West Bengal and Maharashtra, during the period from 2018 to June this year for grant of specific consent for investigation of matters there is pending in 78 per cent cases.
The apex court said it is "concerned" with two aspects which emerged from the affidavit filed by the CBI Director -- the first one about the pendency of requests made by the CBI to the eight states and the other is about stay orders granted by the appellate courts in cases probed by the agency.
A bench of Justices S K Kaul and M M Sundresh referred to the affidavit filed by the CBI Director in pursuance to the top court's earlier direction asking to apprise it about the steps to be taken to strengthen their prosecution unit, the bottlenecks, and also about conviction rate in matters probed by the agency.
These issues had cropped up after the apex court had noted that CBI's appeal against the Jammu and Kashmir High Court order of 2018 was filed after a delay of 542 days.
While hearing the matter on Monday, the bench noted that one of the bottlenecks pointed out in the affidavit is that CBI has sent over 150 requests to the governments of Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Kerala, and Mizoram during the period 2018 to June 2021 for grant of specific consent for investigation of cases in the territory of these states.
It said that as per the affidavit, these eight states have withdrawn the general consent previously granted to Delhi Special Police Establishment (CBI) under section 6 of the DSPE Act.
The bench noted that these requests are stated to be made for investigating trap cases, disproportionate assets cases, matters relating to allegations of cheating, forgery, misappropriation, and also bank fraud cases.
“Requests in 78 per cent cases are stated to be pending which mainly pertain to bank frauds of high magnitude impacting the economy of the country,” the top court noted.
“This is certainly not a desirable position,” the bench said.
The apex court said that the other aspect is the stay orders granted by the appellate courts which affect the pace of trial in the cases.
The bench, which observed that both these issues are needed to be addressed, said this aspect be placed before the Chief Justice of India for consideration and appropriate direction.
The apex court condoned the delay of 542 days in filing the appeal against the high court order subject to a deposit of Rs 25,000 cost within four weeks.
It said that inquiry be conducted to ascertain as to who was responsible for the delay and the cost be recovered from the officer responsible for this.
In an affidavit filed before the top court, the CBI director has said that the agency has achieved the conviction rate of about 65-70 per cent, and would try to raise it to 75 per cent by August 2022.
It said that CBI has secured the conviction of the accused in 69.83 per cent and 69.19 per cent of the cases in 2020 and 2019 respectively.
The effort of CBI is to undertake a quick (preferably less than 30 days) intra-departmental decision as to whether to file an appeal/revision or not in a given prosecution case so that the requirement of condonation of delay is ruled out, the affidavit said.
It said that presently, eight states namely West Bengal, Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Mizoram have withdrawn the general consent previously granted under section 6 of the DSPE Act.
"Now, taking specific consent again on a case-to-case basis is time-consuming and at times may be detrimental to timely and prompt investigation. It is noteworthy to mention that CBI has sent over 150 requests to the Governments of Maharashtra, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Kerala, and Mizoram during the period 2018 to June 2021 for grant of specific consent for investigation of cases in the territory of these States,” the affidavit said.
"The aforesaid requests were made for investigating trap cases, disproportionate assets cases, cases relating to allegations of cheating, forgery, misappropriation, and loss of foreign exchange and also bank fraud cases," it said.
The apex court had earlier asked the CBI director to inform it about the steps taken or proposed to be taken to address the inadequacies in manpower, infrastructure facility, and the quality of investigation.
The top court's direction came while hearing an appeal by CBI challenging the high court order passed in a case of allegedly fabricating/creating false evidence by pressuring, inducing, and threatening the eye-witnesses to make false depositions implicating police/security personnel in the commission of offences of rape and murder of the two women in Shopian.