New Delhi, Oct 12 (PTI) The Delhi High Court today granted interim relief to the CBI by staying a trial court order imposing a cost of Rs 10,000 on its Director of Prosecution for delaying a 36-year-old theft case.

The high court’s interim order came on a plea by the CBI challenging the special court order of passing strictures against the agency and its director of prosecution.

It also stayed the trial court order seeking personal appearance of Director of Prosecution of CBI before it on the next date of hearing.

The case relates to the theft of an antique idol from the ancient Takashakeshwar Mahadev temple in Allahabad in 1981 which was being allegedly smuggled to New York. It is probably the oldest pending criminal matter in the country.

Justice Vinod Goel said the special court’s September 29 order shall operate only to the extent that the public prosecutor attached to the case shall respond to the clarifications sought by the trial court in the matter which is at its final stage.

The high court reserved its order on the CBI’s petition seeking to set aside the special court’s order in which the agency was pulled up for its decision to transfer a prosecutor from the special court without posting another one in advance.

The remarks were made by Special Judge Sanjay Kumar Aggarwal, who was hearing the case which is now at the stage of final arguments. The trial court had pulled up the CBI for not being vigilant enough to ensure the disposal of this case.

In the high court today, the CBI counsel argued that there was no laxity on its part and a mere transfer of a prosecutor should not invite such remarks from the court.

Advocates Nikhil Goel and Sanjeev Bhandari, appearing for the CBI, argued that the special judge nowhere mentioned in his order that the prosecutor was unable to answer queries.

They said no inconvenience was caused to the trial court due to the transfer and the finding in the order was “perverse” and it was “gross exceeding of powers by the judicial officer”.

CBI’s counsel further said the matter went to and from the high court to the trial court because of the accused filing applications.

The counsel, appearing for accused Shrikant Jain, claimed it was the CBI which was delaying the matter and not the accused, and alleged that the agency was misleading the court.

The trial court had earlier lambasted the CBI saying “as is apparent on the face of the record, this is the best case where an old saying ‘Muddai Sust, Gawah Chust’ (the complainant is lazy, but the witness is active) has come true in all its spirit.

“The case was filed by the CBI and hence it should have been vigilant enough to see that the old cases are disposed off as early as possible.”

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.