The Supreme Court on Tuesday said would not entertain any accusation against the personal conduct of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and nixed all attempts by suspended IAS officer Pradeep Sharma to rake up the Gujarat snooping row.
Adjudicating a petition filed by Sharma, a bench of Justices Ranjana P Desai and N V Ramana said the court would not allow him to urge arguments over alleged personal impropriety of the former Gujarat chief minister and that he should confine himself to other contentions.
Sharma has moved the court to get four cases registered against him in Gujarat to be transferred to the CBI since he alleged that the Modi government acted with a vendetta against him in view of his knowledge of certain controversial facts. He added that the government also wanted to get back at his brother, IPS officer Kuldeep Sharma, by attacking him.
In May 2011, his counsel had agreed to remove personal allegations against Modi but the court had last week noted that the amended petition in fact carried more accusations, including the ones relating to alleged illegal surveillance of a woman architect.
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As the hearing began on Tuesday, the bench reminded Sharma’s counsel Sunil Fernandes that he had agreed to delete “even the faintest” allegations on “personal impropriety” against Modi and that he could not be now allowed to wriggle out of his obligation.
“We cannot entertain allegations against personal impropriety. You cannot be allowed to urge such points now. It was a gentleman’s word to the highest court and you must honour it. Even a slightest indication to these allegations will not be entertained. You will not be entitled to argue these points at all,” said the bench.
Fernandes responded that he needed to highlight facts pertaining to snooping to put everything in perspective and to show the malice that Modi government had against Sharma. He also pointed out that although notices were issued to all the parties on his petition, Modi had not filed his affidavit in his response.
The bench, however, said: “We don’t need any affidavit from him in view of your own statement. We don’t fault him for not filing the affidavit. In view of your own statement, these allegations have to go from both the petitions. You cannot delete them in one and keep them in another.”
Fernandes contended that his arguments on surveillance were in pursuant to the SC-ordered probe into the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case in which the CBI has put around 300 telephonic intercepts on record in the trial court and these records disclosed serious offences. He also complained that when the undertaking was given in 2011, THE Gujarat government knew about the surveillance but concealed this fact from the court.
Fernandes even agreed to give up on his plea to have a case registered in the snooping row if the court accepted his request to hand over the probe to the CBI. He said there should not be any objection to his plea in view of the new dispensation at the Centre.
The court replied: “Political dispensation is hardly a consideration for us. We cannot accept such arguments. We are not concerned about which government has gone and which one has come. We will go only by law. These personalities and names don’t affect us. Nobody is above the law and everybody will get a fair hearing.”
Gujarat government opposed Sharma’s petition, saying chargesheets have been filed in four out of five cases against him and hence the probe was already over. They also refuted allegations of malice and prejudice, as the court reserved its order.