Inadmissible and loose: SC strikes down plea for Birla, Sahara diaries probe

These documents purportedly reflected payments to various politicians, including Narendra Modi during his time as Gujarat Chief Minister.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: January 13, 2017 1:08 pm
sahara, birla, modi, pay offs, supreme court, modi corruption, narendra modi, arvind kejriwal, kejriwal, Supreme Court (Source: File Photo)

Stating that democracy will be hampered if investigations are ordered against Constitutional functionaries on the basis of what it called “loose and inadmissible” documents, the Supreme Court Wednesday declined to order a probe based on entries of alleged pay-offs to politicians recovered during raids at the premises of Sahara companies and based on interrogation of Birla executives.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy rejected applications moved by NGO Common Cause, which had sought criminal investigations into the alleged recovery of various documents by CBI and Income Tax during raids at offices of Birla and Sahara. These documents purportedly reflected payments to various politicians, including Narendra Modi during his time as Gujarat Chief Minister.

WATCH VIDEO | Income Tax Panel Admits Sahara Fastest Disposal In 5 Years

“There has to be some cogent material which is prima facie reliable…in case we do not insist for the same and order investigation, process of law can be misused and no democracy can function if investigation is set in motion against high Constitutional functionaries without cogent material”, noted the bench in its order after a day-long hearing.

The alleged entries had been cited by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and, subsequently, by Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi to allege that Modi, as Gujarat Chief Minister, was also the recipient of these payoffs. Both leaders had also alleged that Sahara got immunity from prosecution in order to screen beneficiaries of the illegal pay-offs.

As reported first by The Indian Express last week, the Income Tax Settlement Commission granted immunity from prosecution and penalty to Sahara India over raids conducted in November 2014.

Demanding a court-monitored probe by a special investigation team, the NGO had alleged a “cover-up” following the raids but the bench described the plea as “meritless”. It held that “no case is made out” to direct probe since the petitioner has failed to place on record any credible material that could be relied upon to order an investigation.

“In the absence of relevant materials, it would not be safe to direct investigations against various political functionaries and officers, etc. These petitions are meritless and are thus dismissed…the courts have to guard against ordering investigation against important constitutional functionaries and officers in the absence of cogent material and documents,” said the court.

During the hearing, Prashant Bhushan, counsel for Common Cause, referred to various documents allegedly recovered after raids, which he had attached to his applications, and said he was not holding anybody guilty of any crime but just wanted a probe in public interest so that the truth could come out.

Opposing his plea, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said that nobody in the country would be safe if such documents were to be accepted as legal evidence. “Anyone can put name of anybody on such papers,” contended the AG, adding the Settlement Commission has already closed the matter vis-a-vis Sahara and it was now for the Income Tax department to decide whether it was proper to challenge this order or not.

The bench, accepting the AG’s arguments, said that it was not doubting the merits of the order passed by the Settlement Commission and that was a different proceeding altogether. “Any unscrupulous person may make some entries on the paper, which can be used to achieve ulterior goals by abusing the process of law. It can lead to hampering the functioning of the democracy,” noted the apex court.

Referring to the Settlement Commission order, the court further held: “We find the materials placed on record in Sahara and Birla case are random computer sheets, diaries, emails, etc. Those are not maintained in required manner. Further, in the case of Sahara, the Income Tax Settlement Commission has already concluded that those are not admissible.”

Bhushan cited a Constitution bench judgment in the Lalita Kumari case that an FIR was imperative when the commission of a cognisable offence was disclosed. But the bench relied upon V C Shukla’s case, popularly known as Jain Hawala Diary case, to hold that computer printouts, hard disks, etc., did not comply with the mandate of the Evidence Act and that they required corroboration to be appreciated as admissible as evidence.

As the Jain Hawala Diary case was referred to by the lawyers repeatedly, the bench, at one point, observed that the case reminded it of “intolerable anomaly”.

“On one hand, this court was ordering investigation and on the other, all accused were being discharged (by subordinate courts)…this case brought about a lot of changes that we would not want to discuss in these proceedings,” said Justice Mishra.

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  1. B
    Bharat vasai
    Jan 11, 2017 at 8:36 pm
    This is what happens when we let terrorists seize power in our country. (FYI RSS is indicted in 17 RDX bomb cases in india.) Independent insutions start getting corroded from inside.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Some one has to be investigated for sahara birla diaries. Either the guy who wrote the diaries to prove why he wrote it cause there is no smoke without fire.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;This is 2nd scam involving modi the first one was KG Basin scam of 10,000 crores.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Looks like under congress atleast there's was accountability, under modis regime there is only scams, terrorism, murders and sycopancy.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;If it was rahuls or kejris name in the diaries,they would have been jailed by now. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;India is getting destro by RSS BJP. But indians wont forget this.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;.
    Reply
    1. B
      Bharat vasai
      Jan 12, 2017 at 4:44 am
      Coming to power by lying and betraying india is no mandate.
      Reply
      1. A
        Amar Akbar
        Jan 12, 2017 at 4:21 am
        In INdia we are proud of our Sc which is fiercely independent. They refuse to buy a concept that an independent Aaptard thinks a piece of junk paper found justifies wastage of resources to investigate. They also know that the burden of proof lies on agencies to show the money trail, etc. before they find anyone guilty. And the proof isn't there. Yet all the Sunni Muslims, aaptard, chumcha Sonia Bhakt her feet licker all are screaming this is Modi's fault here. The logic defies me and if there is some logic guys do a healthy debate but don't use Islamic Express to spread your hatred.
        Reply
        1. D
          Daler
          Jan 12, 2017 at 4:00 am
          People power is far bigger than Supreme Court. Justice will come in Elections where people have their voting power. Nothing can save Feku after such a big fraud.
          Reply
          1. G
            Ganpat
            Jan 12, 2017 at 6:29 pm
            They say even God does not punish you until your pot of sins is full to the brim. There is still some more time to go!
            Reply
            1. I
              IML sood
              Jan 12, 2017 at 3:37 am
              Shame on such morons and Pagals who want to show their wisdom as they are more learnt in Law than SC judges.Why don't they approach UNO or International court of Justice or easy way to sit on Dharna before SC in lead of Dharna expert Khujli, Mumtaz and Pappu etc.
              Reply
              1. A
                Ajitdada
                Jan 11, 2017 at 4:13 pm
                I am still waiting for the earthquake as sated by our esteemed congress leader Rahul.
                Reply
                1. M
                  MyTake
                  Jan 12, 2017 at 1:33 am
                  Only LICENCED women can produce leaders in India!! LICENCE raj is still here for some!
                  Reply
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