"Trial got delayed as he did not appear": Allahabad HC Dismisses Congress leader Randeep Surjewala's Plea to Quash 23-Year-Old Case

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Court noted that despite continuous summons since 2001, Surjewala only appeared in court when non-bailable warrants were issued in August 2022. 

The Allahabad High Court recently rejected Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Randeep Singh Surjewala's plea to quash criminal proceedings against him in a 23-year-old case involving alleged political agitation, rioting, and damage to public property during his tenure as a youth Congress leader.

Surjewala argued that the delay in the trial, starting with the FIR in 2000 and the case being committed to the court of sessions in 2022, coupled with missing original records, warranted quashing the proceedings.

However, the bench of Justice Raj Beer Singh, dismissed his plea, stating that while trial delays are relevant, they don't mandate case quashing.

Court noted that Surjewala's non-appearance for nearly two decades contributed to the trial delay. Despite continuous summons since 2001, Surjewala only appeared in court when non-bailable warrants were issued in August 2022. The court deemed his concerns about incomplete charge-sheet copies and missing documents insufficient grounds for quashing.

The high court also refused to direct the Trial Court to supply additional copies of the charge sheet, asserting that legible copies were already provided. It dismissed Surjewala's claim that the charge-sheet's illegibility was a deliberate delay tactic.

Addressing the case's merits, the court found the allegations in the FIR, along with investigation materials, sufficient to establish that it could not be said that no prima facie case was made against Surjewala.

Lastly, the court did not allow Surjewala's prayer against a trial court order (August 10, 2023), which denied his Section 91 CrPC plea seeking copies of statements, medical reports, and other evidence. It ruled that such requests were inappropriate at the charge stage, and the trial court had correctly dismissed the application based on the unavailability of the requested documents at the police station.

Consequently, finding no grounds for quashing the proceedings, the court dismissed Surjewala's application under Section 482 CrPC.

Recently, the top court stayed the execution of a non-bailable warrant issued against Surjewala in the present case. A bench of CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice JB Pardiwala and Justice Manoj Misra has granted Surjewala liberty to move the trial court for cancellation of the warrant within 4 weeks. 

On November 7, 2023, Varanasi court's special judge (MP-MLA) Avanish Gautam issued a non-bailable warrant against the national spokesperson of Congress, ordering him to be produced before the court on November 21 against which he moved the top court. 

Case Title: Randeep Singh Surjewala v. State Of U.P.And Another