BMW case: Apex court chides police for delay (Lead)

January 11th, 2012 - 11:54 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday chided Delhi Police for delay in challenging a Delhi High Court order reducing the sentence of Sanjeev Nanda in the 1999 BMW hit-and-run case.

The high court July 20, 2009 reduced from five years to two years the jail term awarded to convict Nanda, grandson of late Naval chief Admiral S.M. Nanda, for mowing down six people while driving his BMW car in south Delhi Jan 10, 1999.

Police asked the court to issue notice to the officer on special duty (home) of Delhi government seeking explanation as to why he took 21 days in giving his opinion whether an appeal in the case should be filed or not.

“The court must issue notice to him (OSD) to come and explain the 21 days he took in giving opinion,” Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Harin Raval told the apex court bench of Justice Deepak Verma and Justice K.S. Panicker Radhakrishnan.

When Justice Verma asked “why 21 days time was taken by him (OSD)”, Raval said; “Please call him.”

Justice Verma retorted: “We do not want to see their faces. We want to know what you did in pursuing the matter.”

Raval, who appeared for police, said this in the course of the hearing seeking the condonation of 51 days’ delay in moving the apex court against the high court order of July 20, 2009, reducing Nanda’s sentence of five years imprisonment to two years imprisonment.

The high court altered Nanda’s offence from culpable homicide not amounting to murder to causing death by negligence.

The 90 days’ period allowed for challenging in the apex court the high court order expired Oct 18, 2009.

Police moved the apex court 51 days after Oct 18, 2009.

As the court assailed police for not pursuing the matter, Justice Radhakrishnan observed that except for the OSD, all other officers both in the home department and the law department acted promptly.

“Rest all acted with promptitude and at least some thing was to be done at your end,” Justice Radhakrishnan said.

Rawal told the court that there was no delay on the part of police in taking steps to move the apex court but the delay was at the administrative level over which they had no control.

The ASG said the delay in moving the apex court was not “intentional, malafide or for ulterior motives”.

Appearing for Nanda, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani contested Raval’s plea that technicality of limitation period could not be allowed to outweigh the question of substantive justice.

Justice Verma said that rigors of limitation law had been substantially diluted by the apex court itself because it felt that cases should be decided on merits. He said that earlier even a one-day delay used to cause havoc.

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