New Delhi, Jul 17 (PTI) A special court today took strong exception to absence of CBI prosecutor in an over two-decade- old graft case involving former Union Minister P K Thungon, and directed the Director of Prosecution to appear before it.

The court sought the presence of Director of Prosecution of CBI before it tomorrow to explain why a penalty should not be imposed on the probe agency for seeking adjournment due to the absence of the prosecutor in a day-to-day trial.

Special CBI Judge Kamini Lau said the trial of the case was being conducted on a day-to-day basis and the court was unable to proceed with the recording of statements of the prosecution witnesses for the reasons beyond its control and due to the probe agency.

The court said the CBI director, who was accountable for the agency’s cases going undefended, should be apprised of the order for his intervention to find a solution to the situation.

“The Director of Prosecution, CBI to appear in person on July 18 and show cause why an adjournment cost be not imposed upon the prosecution/ CBI in terms of the provisions of CrPC for an adjournment thrust upon the court for non-appearance of the public prosecutor for CBI,” it said.

The court was irked over the absence of any prosecutor during the day’s hearing. While the regular prosecutor of the court was on leave, the one deputed in his place did not appear before it when the matter was taken up.

The court asked the deputy legal advisor of CBI to depute the same prosecutor for this case who was earlier appearing on behalf of the agency as he was aware of the facts.

He, however, refused to appear in the matter saying he has no such authorisation, the court noted in its order.

The court said that the Director of Prosecution shall also inform it of the remedial action taken on an urgent basis as the trial of the case has commenced on daily basis and is required to be concluded by July 21 as per its previous order.

The court asked the agency to make an arrangement for the stay of a witness, a retired CBI officer who came to the court from Bhubaneshwar along with a flight ticket for tomorrow.

It said the case was over 21 years in which 18 persons were facing trial and three of them have died while several others including Thungon are senior citizens.

It said the case has been taken up on priority basis in view of specific directions of the Supreme Court and the Delhi High Court relating to expeditious disposal of cases which are over five-year-old.

As per records, the case was lodged in 1996, a charge sheet was filed by CBI in 2003 and charges were framed in 2009. A total of 245 dates were fixed, of which 180 were for prosecution evidence. After this the court on May 31 this year directed that examination of remaining witnesses be done on day-to-day basis from July 17.

Thungon, the then Minister of State for Urban Affairs and Employment and former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister, along with others is facing trial for alleged irregularities in allotment of government quarters. A graft case was then lodged by the CBI against 18 persons.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.