The Supreme Court Monday put on hold the Allahabad High Court order asking the Uttar Pradesh government to disclose in how many criminal cases it has withdrawn prosecution against an accused even though the trial is pending against them.
A vacation bench of Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit put on hold the high court order and issued notice to Ram Naresh Yadav (not the Madhya Pradesh governor) and another person.
The high court order came during the hearing on Yadav's plea that either the case against him for breach of trust as ordered by the state government be withdrawn or the trial expedited.
The apex court observed that the high court order "may be to send message to subordinate court not to accept the withdrawal of prosecution report (by the state) routinely". Uttar Pradesh's Advocate General Vijay Bahadur Singh assailed the high court order that said in a large number of cases decisions are being taken in a "rampant discreet manner and the cases are being withdrawn against a particular class of persons throughout the state".
The court also agreed that "digging" all the cases of past two years where the government had withdrawn prosecution was a "mammoth" task as Singh argued that the high court had passed an order when there were no pleadings before it to that effect.
The advocate general, assisted by Ravi P. Mehrotra and S. A. Murtaza, told the apex court that the high court took an "interesting" stand and "made an incorrect observation that cases against a class of persons were being withdrawn under Section 321 of Cr.PC when the same was not even pleaded in the petition before it" by Yadav.
As per Section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code in respect of Uttar Pradesh, "the public prosecutor or assistant public prosecutor on the written permission of the state government to that effect, with the consent of the court at any time before the judgment is pronounced, withdraw from the prosecution of any person either generally or in respect of any one or more of the offences for which he is tried".
While dealing with Yadav's petition, the high court had said that the decision to withdraw the case showed "a clear cut prima facie partisan stand in the favour of the accused and that too taking into confidence the complainant".
The high court had directed the Uttar Pradesh government to file an affidavit placing on record "as to in how many matters, in the past two years, such decisions have been taken and what are the consideration on which such decisions have been taken".