Can states file appeal in CBI probed cases: SC to Centre

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today sought response from the Centre and others on a question of law as to whether a state government can file an appeal in a matter that is prosecuted by the CBI.

A bench of justices Altamas Kabir and S S Nijjar issued notices to the respondents on an appeal filed by the Chhattisgarh government challenging the acquittal of Amit Jogi, son of former Chief Minister Ajit Jogi, in a murder case.

Senior counsel L Nageshwar Rao, appearing for the state, sought to assail an earlier judgment of the apex court that the states or other prosecuting agencies have no right of appeal in a matter investigated by the CBI.

The impugned judgment was passed by the apex court in the matter of the alleged disproportionate assets case of former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav.

The Chhattisgarh government contended that the said judgment in Yadav`s case was erroneous and, hence, should be reviewed by the apex court as otherwise the CBI would have unbridled power of resorting to `pick and choose strategy` in dealing with political opponents.

The state was aggrieved that the Chhattisgarh High Court had refused to allow it to file the appeal against Jogi`s acquittal. The high court in its August 18, 2011 verdict had dismissed the state`s plea against the acquittal of Amit Jogi on the ground that only the CBI, being a prosecuting agency, had the jurisdiction to file the appeal.

Amit Jogi was accused of the murder of NCP leader Ram Avtar Jaggi in 2003. Jaggi was shot dead on June 4, 2003 and five persons were arrested by the state police and a charge sheet was filed against them holding that the motive of the murder was robbery.

The case was handed over to the CBI in January 2004 and the agency filed a charge sheet against 31 persons stating that Jaggi was shot dead by an accused Chiman Singh for political reasons as a rally was being organised by him in Raipur on June 10, 2003, which posed a political threat to the then Chief Minister Ajit Jogi and his son Amit.

The CBI had alleged the murder was committed after a criminal conspiracy between Amit Jogi and others. The trial court had on May 31, 2007, acquitted Amit Jogi and convicted all other 28 accused persons.

State of Chattisgarh said the acquittal of Amit Jogi was challenged by it before the high court and in a separate appeal, "the CBI filed appeal after a delay of more than three-and-a-half years".