Delhi High Court Orders Speedy Trial in Excise Policy Case Involving High-Profile Politicians

The Delhi High Court has issued specific directions to expedite the trial in the Delhi excise policy case, which is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). This decision came after Hyderabad businessman Arun Ramachandran Pillai challenged the trial court’s decision to proceed with hearings on charges.

The case involves high-profile politicians such as former Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha. Justice Swarana Kanta Sharma of the Delhi High Court instructed the trial court to start hearing arguments on charges immediately and to assign “block dates” for each accused to present their arguments on framing of charges. Justice Sharma also emphasized that written submissions should be filed on the same day the oral arguments are concluded, to ensure a speedy trial.

Furthermore, the Court directed that once the CBI files its supplementary chargesheet against K Kavitha, the document should be made available to the accused on the first day of the hearing to save time. The trial court is to set short dates for reviewing these documents, ensuring that the Investigating Officer (IO) provides clear and properly organized copies. The accused are expected to review these documents and report any deficiencies within two days to avoid unnecessary delays in the scrutiny process.

The High Court’s directions were issued while addressing a plea from Arun Ramachandran Pillai, who challenged the commencement of arguments on the charges, arguing that it should be deferred until the CBI completes its investigation. The trial court had dismissed his plea, prompting him to approach the High Court. Pillai’s counsel argued that the possibility of additional accused being included in the case necessitated delaying the trial to avoid prejudicing the defense.

However, the High Court refused to interfere with the trial court’s decision. It noted that the trial court had already considered Pillai’s concerns, acknowledging that 16 individuals had been chargesheeted and that hearing arguments on the charges would take significant time. If the CBI files additional chargesheets, the ongoing hearing can be paused, and copies of the new chargesheets will be provided to all accused. Consequently, the High Court concluded that there was no need to intervene at this stage, deeming the trial court’s order appropriate and free from any errors.

The High Court’s decision aims to balance the need for a speedy trial with ensuring that all accused have adequate time to review charges and prepare their defense. The directions also stress efficient document handling to avoid delays. This case, involving prominent politicians and significant public interest, underscores the judicial system’s efforts to manage complex cases promptly while ensuring fairness to all parties.

Representing Arun Ramachandran Pillai were advocates Nitesh Rana, Anuj Tiwari, Kaushal Kait, Deepak Nagar, Nikhil Kohli, Soumya Kumar, and Monika. The CBI’s legal team included Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) DP Singh, along with advocates Manu Mishra, Shreya Dutt, and Imaan Khera.

Overall, the High Court’s directions aim to streamline the trial process in the Delhi excise policy case, ensuring timely justice while upholding the rights of the accused to a fair trial.