At 99, fight against ambulance summons

Read more below

By OUR LEGAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 6.04.13
  •  

New Delhi, April 5: A former Union minister almost a 100 years old has moved the Supreme Court challenging the order of a CBI special judge to attend court proceedings in an ambulance in an accommodation allotment case.

In her plea to the apex court, Sheila Kaul said she was incapable of giving rational answers because of her advancing age and ailments. The 1996 case relates to allotment of government accommodation, when Kaul was a minister in the then P.V. Narasimha Rao government.

Kaul, who is now 99, has complained that the special CBI judge passed the order despite a medical board of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences giving a report on April 27, 2012, that she had an “impaired” understanding of day-to-day events.

But the special CBI judge, according to Kaul’s plea, held that she was capable of understanding questions put to her and giving appropriate answers. In an order on May 9, 2012, the judge asked Kaul to appear on the next date of hearing in court in an ambulance to answer the charges to be framed against her.

Aggrieved by the special judge’s order, Kaul moved Delhi High Court which on February 20, 2013, dismissed her plea, following which she filed the appeal in the apex court.

The former minister said both the CBI judge and the high court had failed to consider that the orders passed by them were contrary to Section 329 of the CrPC. This section provides for delay of further proceedings in a case if the accused is of unsound mind and consequently incapable of making his/her defence.

Kaul contended that the two courts did not refer to Section 329 of the CrPC in their judgments as was required and so they were liable to be quashed.

In 1996, the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to probe the alleged illegal allotments of government accommodation. The allotments were made between 1992 and 1995.

The CBI chargesheet alleged that Kaul and two of her personal staff members, Rajan S. Lala and R.K. Sharma, directly accepted applications from employees seeking government accommodation for monetary benefits. The minister would then pass allotment orders ignoring objections raised by the director, estate.