The Delhi High Court on Friday maintained that it was up to judicial officers to ensure that that the accused were not sent to police custody for more than 15 days from the day of his production before a trial court.
Justice Vinod Goel said this while setting aside a special judge’s order and allowing the plea of two directors of a firm, who have challenged the trial court’s August 28 order extending their ED custody by 10 days which is beyond the stipulated 15-day period of remand.
“Additional Sessions Judge could not have given the ED remand for more than 15 days after the petitioners were produced on August 22.
“Therefore, the order of the special judge of August 28 being per se illegal, perverse and whimsical, is set aside to the extent of remanding the accused persons beyond period of fifteen days as mandated by Section 167(2) of the CrPC,” the court observed.
The directors of the Surya Vinayak Industries Limited, Sanjay Jain and Rajiv Jain were arrested in a money-laundering case related to alleged cheating of several banks to the tune of Rs 2,240 crore, and produced before a special judge on August 22. The judge had remanded them to ED custody for three days.
On August 25, they were remanded to judicial custody for another three days.
On August 28, the special judge again remanded them for ten days which was beyond 15 days of their custody,” their counsel said.
Allowing their plea, the court observed that the judicial officers while dealing with requests for remand should be “very precise, meticulous and cautious”.
The court observed that judicial officers shall ensure that from the first day of production, the accused cannot be sent to police custody after completion of 15 days.
“After the expiry of first period of 15 days, the accused can only be kept in judicial custody but certainly not in police custody.
“The judicial officer is not a post office or mouthpiece of the prosecution and should act in a judicial manner and ensure compliance of Section 167(2) CrPC and law laid down by the Supreme Court of India in…in its letter and spirit,” it added.
The court further said that purity of justice must be maintained at all cost.
“It is not out of place to mention that public prosecutor is the officer of the court and not the persecutor. He is supposed to assist the court in proper perspective,” it said.
and directed that the copy of the order shall be circulated to all the judicial officers for their guidance.
“District and Sessions Judges are requested to sensitise the judicial officers posted under their jurisdictions,” it added.