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Court admits time plea for filing chargesheet

The Khadim’s kidnap case had grabbed more attention than most acts of crime in the city in recent times. But after the shoe company’s vice-chairman, Parthapratim Roy Burman, returned home, the focus shifted on the pace of the police probe and the failure to chargesheet the accused within the stipulated time.

As the time clause — of a chargesheet having to be filed within 90 days — paved the exit path for one accused after another, the cry went up for “more time for cops to crack a complicated case”.

Now, the police could well find some help from court. Calcutta High Court has admitted a public interest litigation demanding amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to allow investigating agencies more time to complete their probe and grant the sessions court more time to dispose of cases.

Pratul Kumar Sinha, advocate of Nadia district court, filed the litigation demanding modification of Clause V of Rule 167, CrPC. The rule says that an accused will be granted bail if the police fail to file a chargesheet against him within 90 days of his arrest. Besides, if the sessions court fails to complete a trial within three years, the accused will have to be set free.

“An alarming spurt in organised crime is now posing a real threat. Sometimes, sleuths have to move to a number of countries to track down criminals or unravel a conspiracy,” Sinha told the court. The sessions courts, too, were struggling to meet the three-year deadline in many cases, he said.

The division bench of Calcutta High Court, comprising Chief Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice J. Biswas, admitted the litigation and asked the petitioner to serve notices on the state government. The matter has been fixed for hearing two weeks after the Puja vacation.

Recently, the city police and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) have faced “major problems” covering a lot of territory while trying to crack complex criminal cases and furnish chargesheets within the stipulated time. Case in point: the Khadim’s kidnap.

The police, of course, have welcomed the move. “If the chargesheet time is extended, it will be a real boost to us. At present, only for sensitive cases are we given a special extension,” said Rahul Srivastava, additional superintendent (north).

Public prosecutor Kazi Safiullah said the government would make its stand clear on the matter during the hearing of the case.

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