Chhattisgarh govt to SC: Review order in Lalu Prasad's DA case

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In an unusual step, Chhattisgarh government has requested the Supreme Court to reconsider its two-year-old judgment giving relief to RJD chief Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi in a disproportionate assets (DA) case, in which it had held that the state government had no role to file appeal in a case investigated by the CBI.

In the Lalu Prasad case, the apex court had ruled in April, 2010 that the state government could not file appeal against acquittal of the accused even in cases where the CBI refuses to challenge the trial court or High Court's decision favouring the accused. It had dismissed Bihar government's decision to appeal in the HC against the trial court's decision to acquit Prasad and his wife in the DA case.
The Raman Singh government, moving the apex court challenging the acquittal of ex-CM Ajit Jogi's son Amit in a 2003 murder case, said the judgment was contrary to the criminal justice system under which the primary authority relating administration of justice vested in the state government.

It said under the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, under which the CBI functions, a limited federal jurisdiction in investigation was created. But this did not oust the state government from its role of administering the criminal justice system, including prosecuting for violation of IPC and should, therefore, continue to have a right to appeal an acquittal.

"The decision of the apex court in Lalu Prasad Yadav's case requires reconsideration for not only is it flawed in the manner in which it construed the state, but unwittingly upset the delicate balance between the Union and the State in relation to administration of justice," said the state government in its appeal filed through advocate Atul Jha.

In the prevailing circumstances where allegations are afoot that closeness to the central dispensation decided how seriously the CBI went after the accused politician, the denial of right to the state to appeal acquittals could seriously dent the criminal justice dispensation system.

"As a result of the 2010 judgment, the power of the state to appeal an acquittal is taken away. A reading of the judgment shows that there are serious legal issues that warrant a reconsideration of the judgment," the BJP government said.

Though 31 were accused in the murder of a political leader, the trial court in its May, 2007 judgment convicted 29, and acquitted Amit and another person. State government filed an appeal in HC in July, 2007. "The CBI deliberately and intentionally delayed the filing of appeal by more than three and half years. While the state's appeal was dismissed following the SC's 2010 judgment, the CBI appeal was dismissed on the grounds of delay."

The question raised by Chhattisgarh government before the apex court is: "whether the state government is competent to file an appeal against the order of acquittal of main accused in a case which has been investigated by the CBI".

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