The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday suggested that the CBI empower the Additional Solicitor General to give an opinion to the agency on filing appeals challenging court orders to cut down on delay.

Justice Bibek Chaudhuri gave the proposal when CBI Director General S K Jaiswal was present via virtual mode during a hearing.

The Judge, who was hearing a prayer by the CBI for condonation of delay in filing appeal against a lower court's order in a case of alleged cheating and fraud, had on the previous date directed the CBI chief to be present before the court to hear suggestions for ensuring that appeals are filed within the limitation period.

Justice Chaudhuri asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S V Raju, who was representing the CBI virtually, to take up with the agency his suggestion that the ASG to the high court be empowered to give an opinion on whether or not to file an appeal in a matter directly to the director, prosecution, of the agency to cut down on delay in the decision making.

Raju submitted that the central government will be informed of the suggestion made by the Court. The Court dispensed with further appearance of the CBI director general before the court personally.

Holding that inordinate delay occurs in all cases in which the CBI is filing appeals, the judge said that if the court allows all its prayers for condonation of delay, it may lead a common litigant to think that the agency is privileged.

Asking why all orders have to be sent to the CBI head office in Delhi for consideration as to whether an appeal is to be filed or not in a matter, Justice Chaudhuri said that this leads to a file moving from table to table for clearances at different levels causing delays.

The ASG submitted that a circular issued in March 2020 by the CBI authority has set timelines for the process of appeals and that disciplinary action is taken if there is a breach. He said that now it takes less than 30 days to decide on whether an appeal is to be filed or not.

Raju submitted that the circular takes care of the anxieties expressed by the Judge. Counsel Anirban Mitra represented the CBI in the Court physically.

The Court had on April 6 proposed an amendment of clause 21.9 of CBI (Crime Manual, 2022) by the CBI in its administrative authority empowering the ASG to the High Court to give his opinion as to whether an appeal should be filed against a judgment and order of acquittal or for enhancement of sentence and on the basis of the opinion given by the ASG, the zonal office may be permitted to file a memorandum of appeal within the period of limitation.

With PTI inputs