Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over the slow pace of investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in cases against sitting and former MPs and MLAs, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said the agencies have not indicated the reasons behind the delay.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant said, “We are sorry to say that the report is inconclusive and there is no reason for not filing charge-sheet for 10-15 years.”

The observation came while referring to reports filed by ED and CBI. As per these reports, 51 MPs, 71 MLAs/MLCs are facing cases under Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and 121 CBI cases against sitting legislators are pending.

Of the 121 cases pending trial against MPs/MLAs before CBI courts across the country, 58 are punishable with life imprisonment. In 45 cases, charges have not been framed, though the offences are alleged to have been committed several years back. A total of 37 CBI cases against legislators are in the stage of investigation for many years. One of these cases, according to CBI, was expected to be completed by 2030.

“We don’t want to demoralise the agencies. They are over-burdened like judges. So we are exercising restraint. But the report speaks volumes,” CJI Ramana observed. He also said that in several PMLA cases, the ED has done nothing except for attaching properties. This, without filing charge-sheets, will not serve any purpose, CJI Ramana added.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said in many ED cases, response from foreign countries are required. However, Letters Rogatories sent for information from foreign countries are responded late. This causes delay in investigation. He, however, clarified that he was not justifying the delay. He suggested that the court may set an outer limit for trials to end.

“It is easy for us to say expedite trial and all, but where are the judges?” the CJI asked, adding that, “Manpower is a real issue. Just like us, investigating agencies are also suffering with this issue. Everyone wants a CBI investigation you see.”