STATE Vs. NARAYAN WAMAN NURUKAR
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: DELHI)
NARAYAN WAMAN NERUKAR
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(2.)Challenge in this appeal is to the judgment of a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court whereby the proceedings against the respondent No. 1 were quashed, primarily on ground that there was unnecessary delay in conclusion of the trial by Court. Reliance was placed on a decision of this Court in "Common Cause" A Registered Society through its Director v. Union of India and others (1996) 4 SCC 33 as modified in "Common Cause" A Registered Society through its Director v. Union of India and others ((1996) 6 SCC 775) to hold so. A brief reference to the factual aspects would suffice.
(3.)According to the prosecution, respondent No. 1 committed offences under Ss. 3 and 5 of the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (in short 'Secrets Act') and S. 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short 'IPC') read with the aforesaid provisions. The Chief Metropolitan Magistrate by his order dated 16-8-1999 took cognizance and issued processes against the accused persons including the respondent No. 1 herein. Respondent No. 1 approached the High Court under S. 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (in short 'Cr. P.C.') for passing an order against the cognizance taken by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate. The High Court quashed the proceedings, inter alia, on the ground that there has been unnecessary delay in the proceedings. Stand of the prosecution before the High Court was that the case is of very serious nature and the respondent No. 1, who at the relevant time, was Adviser in the Department of Electronics, Government of India parted with a copy of a sensitive secret document namely "User Evaluation Trial Report on RATAC-S Battle Field Surveillance Radar (BFSR) Phase-I," which was being evaluated by the Army Authorities with reference to certain specific parameter required by the Army Authorities and the same was dispatched to an expert in Paris, France through courier service, who brought it to the notice of the police. As such the case involved offences which relate to security of the State. A large number of documents were to be exhibited. There was no unusual delay. But the High Court did not accept the same. Placing reliance on a decision of this Court in Abdul Rehman Antulay and others v. R. S. Nayak and another (1992) 1 SCC 225, it was held that the right of speedy trial has been infringed. It was noted that merely because about 100 witnesses spread all over the India were to be examined, that cannot be a relevant ground justifying the delay. Maximum punishment for the alleged offence is 3 years and the respondent No. 1 has suffered custody of about 2 years in addition to agony of facing prosecution for about 12 years.
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