S.K.SAHOO, J. -
(1.) This case has proceeded at a snail's pace since the first information report was registered on 05.01.1983 and on completion of investigation charge sheet was submitted on 31.12.1984. The learned trial Court framed the charges on 07.07.1986, delivered the impugned judgment on 26.10.1989 whereafter this criminal appeal was presented on 10.11.1989 and admitted on 17.11.1989 and the appellants were directed to be released on bail. More than thirty one years after the presentation of the appeal, the judgment is being delivered today. When such type of year old criminal appeal comes for adjudication, few questions strike to mind, "Why so much of delay was caused to adjudicate the appeal? How it happened? Who is responsible for the delay?" The answers are not very difficult to find. The order sheet indicates that after the admission of the appeal, it was listed before various Benches for hearing but in spite of filing of paper books, the learned counsel for the appellants showed no interest to argue the appeal, for which the bail order granted to the appellants at the time of admission of the appeal was recalled on 06.02.2008. However, on the application filed by the appellants, they were directed to be released on bail on surrender before the learned trial Court as per order dated 12.05.2008. Again the same thing continued and when the matter was taken up on 13.03.2013 for hearing, none appeared for the appellants to argue the case for which the bail order dated 12.05.2008 was recalled and the appellant no.2 Maheswar Behera was arrested on 10.04.2013 and he was directed to be released on bail by this Court on 18.04.2013 and on the same day, an order was passed to recall the order dated 13.03.2013 so far as appellant no.1 Sridhar Swain is concerned. Another co-accused namely M.K. Raghaban who along with the appellants faced trial and convicted by virtue of the impugned judgment, preferred a separate appeal in Criminal Appeal No.332 of 1989 and was on bail, expired on 26.08.2000 for which the said appeal stood abetted as per order dated 17.04.2013. Finally, this appeal was listed before me on 06.08.2020 and again on that day, none appeared for the appellants and on the request of learned Senior Standing Counsel for the Vigilance Department, the matter was adjourned awaiting the report of Superintendent of Police, Vigilance, Sambalpur Division, Sambalpur for giving intimation to the appellants for taking up the matter for hearing. In spite of due intimation, Mr. Jugal Kishore Panda, Advocate though filed vakalatnama for appellant no.2 Maheswar Behera but since none appeared on behalf of the appellant no.1 Sridhar Swain, the learned counsel Mr. Jugal Kishore Panda was appointed as Amicus Curiae to place the case of appellant no.1 also and time was granted to him to prepare the case. The matter was ultimately taken up every week on Thursday which was fixed for hearing of criminal appeal starting from 05.11.2020 and after the hearing was concluded, the judgment was reserved and the learned counsel for the appellants took time to file written note of submissions, which he filed on 24.11.2020.
It is said that slow and steady wins the race, but when the world is changing very fast, if one does not take pace then the fast would beat the slow. This case is a glaring example to show as to how the true import of the legal maxim 'justice delayed is justice denied' has yet not been appreciated properly. Delayed justice is the deadliest form of denial of justice. Discipline, commitment, thorough preparation, active cooperation from the learned members of the Bar and their able assistance can save a lot of valuable time of the Court and will pave way for early disposal of the old criminal appeals which are hanging over the head of judiciary like the sword of Damocles, otherwise all the planning, mechanism and infrastructure development would fail to yield the desired result in docket management. All concerned must realise that 'Rome was not built in a day' and for that continuous effort for doing something good and important is necessary though it may take time.
(2.) The appellant no.1 Sridhar Swain along with co- accused M.K. Raghaban faced trial in the Court of learned Special Judge (Vigilance), Sambalpur in T.R. Case No. 12 of 1985 for offences punishable under section 5(2) read with section 5(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947 (hereafter '1947 Act') read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and sections 465, 471 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code. The appellant no.2 Maheswar Behera faced trial along with them but for the offences punishable under section 5(2) read with section 5(1)(d) of the 1947 Act read with section 109 of the Indian Penal Code and sections 465, 471 read with section 109 of the Indian Penal Code.
The learned trial Court vide impugned judgment and order dated 26.10.1989, found the appellant no.1 along with co- accused M.K. Raghaban guilty of the offences under section 5(2) of the 1947 Act read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and sections 465 and 471 read with section 34 of the Indian Penal Code and the appellant no.2 was found guilty of the offences under section 5(2) of the 1947 Act, sections 465 and 471 read with section 109 of the Indian Penal Code and all the three were sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three months on each count with a further direction that the sentences are to run concurrently.
(3.) The prosecution case as per the F.I.R. (Ext.27), in short, is that Subas Chandra Patnaik (P.W.7), Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vigilance, Rourkela in course of enquiry found that the appellant no.1 was working as Municipal Engineer in N.A.C.(C.T.), Rourkela during the period from 30.07.1979 to 01.07.1982 and the co-accused M.K. Raghaban was working as Sub-Assistant Engineer in N.A.C.(C.T.), Rourkela from 07.08.1980 till the lodging of the first information report and they committed criminal misconduct in respect of Municipal fund in execution of the work relating to (a) special repair to 40 feet wide road in Madhusudan market; (b) special repair to Taxi and Tempo stand at Madhusudan market area and (c) special repair to private and transport bus stand at Madhusudan market area. The appellant no.1 prepared the estimate for the above three work and after getting necessary approval from the Executive Officer and Chairman N.A.C.(C.T.), Rourkela, quotations were invited as per tender notice vide no.5238 dated 31.12.1981. The appellant no.2 along with others submitted tender for the above three work in pursuance of such notice and the tender papers were opened on 23.01.1982 in presence of the appellant no.1 and the Executive Officer Rajendranath Jena (P.W.5) who made endorsement in the quotations of appellant no.2 to the effect that there was only one cutting and no over writing and it referred to other items of work and not to the cost of MAXphalt. The appellant no.2 quoted the cost of MAXphalt at Rs.2,021/- per metric ton. Entries were also made in the tender register showing the rate of MAXphalt at the rate of Rs.2,021/- in respect of quotation of the appellant no.2. Subsequently, the price of MAXphalt was changed from Rs.2,021/- to Rs.2,621/- by interpolation and overwriting both in figures and words in the quotation of the appellant no.2 and also in the tender register and as per the prosecution case, it was the co-accused M.K. Raghaban who made such interpolation in respect of the price of MAXphalt. It appears from the note sheet of the relevant files relating to the above work that the figures mentioned therein differs from the figures indicated on the body of comparative statements of all the three work. The said co-accused though correctly prepared the comparative statements at the first instance showing the price of MAXphalt at the rate of Rs.2,021/-, yet he subsequently changed those to a higher rate and prepared comparative statement showing the price of MAXphalt at Rs.2,621/- per metric ton and thereby helping the appellant no.2 to take excess amount of Rs.600/- per metric ton of MAXphalt after getting the approval of the Executive Officer and Chairman through the appellant no.1 who did not point out the discrepancies in the note sheet and comparative statement regarding the price of MAXphalt when the matter was placed before the Executive Officer and Chairman for approval. After completion of the work, the co-accused M.K. Raghaban noted the measurement of the work in the measurement book showing price of MAXphalt at Rs.2,621/- per metric ton and got the bill passed for payment as per voucher no.39 dated 23.04.1982 giving the benefit of Rs.1,289.60 to the appellant no.2. It is the further prosecution case as per the F.I.R. that the appellant no.1 and the co-accused M.K. Raghaban quoted false measurement in the measurement book in respect of grouting item of all the three works and thereby gave pecuniary benefit to the appellant no.2.;