NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Friday pulled up the CBI for its failure to produce a witness before the lower court in a 1983 case and said that facing trial for over three decades was itself "a punishment" for a person.
The apex court observed this while hearing an appeal filed by an accused who has challenged the Calcutta High Court verdict upholding a trial court's order permitting examination of a prosecution witness in the case.
"In India, a person facing trial for 35 years is itself a punishment," said a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and S Abdul Nazeer.
"This is a case of 1983 and we are in 2019 now. This is a 35-year-old case. You (CBI) are not able to produce this witness before the court. Fair trial and speedy trial is for the accused also. That too, you are the CBI," the bench told the counsel representing the probe agency.
The CBI's counsel said examination of a prosecution witness, a hand writing expert, was crucial for the case.
The case was lodged in August 1983 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) relating to cheating, criminal conspiracy, using forged documents and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The trial court in Kolkata had in December 2014 permitted examination of the hand writing expert as a prosecution witness after which the accused had challenged the order in the high court.
The high court had refused to interfere with the lower court order.