Thursday, February 22, 2024

Sheila Kaul, 98, exempted from appearance


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New Delhi: Ninety eight-year-old former Union Minister Shiela Kaul was on Wednesday exempted again from appearing personally before a special CBI court for framing of charges for her trial in a 1996 government accommodation allotment scam.

Special CBI Judge Pradeep Chaddah exempted Kaul from personal appearance for the day after her counsel submitted that she has moved the Delhi High Court against the court’s order for her personal appearance for framing of charges.

An accused has to be personally present in the trial court during the proceedings in his or her case, specially on occasions like framing of charges. Referring to the court’s earlier order that Kaul will have to come to the court as there is no immunity for aged people under law, Kaul’s counsel said the high court “might just make some law.”

The court then adjourned the matter till disposal of the petition before the high court. “I allow the application moved and exempt the presence of Sheila Kaul for on Wednesday. Let file to come up for framing of charges on July 16. Depending upon the order of the high court, accused Sheila Kaul shall be appearing in person,” the court said.

The court had on May 9 asked Kaul to appear before it to answer the charges framed against her while denying her further relief from personal appearance on ground of old age.

“Unfortunately for her, law does not prescribe any immunity for aged people. She might be quite old but there is no way out,” the court had said.

Kaul, the former Union urban development minister in Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao’s Cabinet, is accused of conspiring with her erstwhile Additional Private Secretary Rajan Lala and Private Assistant R K Sharma for making out-of-turn allotment of government accommodation for making pecuniary gains from alottees between 1992 and 1995.

The court had in February held that prima facie a case was made out against them and decided to frame charges under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, besides for hatching criminal conspiracy under section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code.

Kaul, however, has failed to appear before the court to complete the legal formality of either pleading not guilty and claiming trial or admitting the guilt. She failed to appear before the court on the plea that she is suffering from various ailments and is totally bed-ridden. (PTI)


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