HC unhappy over usurpation of power by Bombay bench

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 07 Apr 2018 09:07:39


Staff Reporter,

Directs trial court to complete NDCCB trial in one year

Alleged usurpation of power of co-ordinated benches of Bombay High Court by its Principal Seat, once again came under sharp attack during the hearing of a high-profile case involving Rs 152 crore Gilt scam involving Saoner MLA Sunil Kedar, who was Chairman of Nagpur District Central Co-operative Bank (NDCCB), when the scam surfaced. Sanjay Agrawal, the mastermind and Director of Home Trade, who never appeared before Nagpur courts, had moved Bombay High Court challenging territorial jurisdiction of various courts to try Gilt scam and a stay was granted by a single judge bench on December 19, 2014. Just four days later, a division bench of co-ordinated bench of High Court at Nagpur had directed completion of trial languishing for 12 years due to technical reasons to complete it within next 12 months by holding day-to-day hearing.

However, criminal trial did not proceed further due to stay granted by Mumbai bench. But this fact was never placed on record for four long years. Finally, on Friday, this stay order was brought to the notice of a division bench consisting of Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Murlidhar Giratkar and it immediately revived the old jurisdictional war and regular practice of Principal Seat to transfer matters to Mumbai from other benches. The division bench also expressed its unhappiness over the stay granted by a single judge to a case pending before Nagpur Court when orders of severance were clearly issued. The High Court also pulled up State Government for bringing this order on record for last four years. As a result, the criminal trial is in limbo.

The High Court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Omprakash Kamdi, demanding speedy trial languishing for over a decade and its completion in one year, probe against Kedar and others for causing huge loss to NDCCB. The High Court on December 23, 2014 had directed the Co-operative department to complete the enquiry within 6 months and had also asked the trial court to complete the trial within one year. The trial in NDCCB scam was languishing for last 14 years and even charges were not been framed. The Supreme Court has already set a time-frame of one year for all criminal prosecutions initiated against elected representatives.

The earlier special auditor had indicted Kedar for causing loss to NDCCB and had directed him to pay Rs 129.31 crore with interest to the bank. He had challenged the order before then co-operation Minister Harshawardhan Patil who had ordered a de novo inquiry. Adv Shreerang Bhandarkar appeared for the petitioner. AGP Mehroz Pathan (State), Adv Akshay Naik (Kedar), Adv Darshan Siras (NDCCB officer) represented the respondents.