Sahara case: Enough material on record to direct probe, Prashant Bhushan tells SC

‘If no probe in this case, then in no case can SC order probe’

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: January 6, 2017 5:24 am
Supreme Court, Prashant Bhushan, Income Tax raids, Narendra Modi-bribery allegations, Bhushan-NGO, India news, Indian Express Prashant Bhushan. (File)

Asked to come back with some “credible” evidence, a petitioner NGO Thursday told the Supreme Court that no other probe would be justified if the apex court does not order an investigation on the basis of Income Tax papers relating to raids at Aditya Birla Group and Sahara companies, allegedly recording entries of illegal pay-offs to politicians.

The NGO, Common Cause, moving an additional affidavit in the court, asserted that the IT appraisal report coupled with diary and email entries were adequate to suggest grave illegalities in the matter and, hence, the top court must order a probe straightaway.

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“It is quite rare that so much clear evidence is placed before the Court or the investigation agencies to seek investigation. If no investigation is directed in this case, then in no case this Hon’ble Court would be justified in directing an investigation,” maintained the affidavit, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan.

The affidavit pointed out that an investigation was incumbent in view of certain incontrovertible facts, that raids were conducted by the CBI on the Birla Group and by the Income Tax Department on the Sahara Group; that unaccounted cash was recovered in the raids; that diaries, notebook, hand-written papers, computer documents were recovered and they had entries on alleged payoffs to politicians and civil servants.

“In the present case, the circumstances make out a more than adequate case for directing a credible and independent investigation as per the law laid down by Constitution Bench in Lalita Kumari case (that mandates registration of FIR when any serious offence is brought to notice of law enforcement agencies),” stated the affidavit. It added that there has been no rebuttal by any authority or entity of the authenticity of the material placed before the court.

“Therefore, the petitioners request this Hon’ble Court, as a guardian of the Constitution and the rule of law to order a thorough court-monitored SIT investigation into the material and evidence collected during the raid of the two business groups,” said the affidavit that will be taken up by the court on January 11.

On December 16, the last day of hearing, Bhushan raised the pendency of Justice J S Khehar’s appointment as CJI with the government while suggesting that the judge should not hear the plea seeking a probe against various politicians over alleged illegal payoffs by Aditya Birla and Sahara groups.

Justice Khehar responded by saying: “This is most unfair and very unfortunate. It is not a fair request but you go to any other bench you want. I don’t want to hear this matter anymore.”

While Bhushan contended that it was his duty as an officer of the court to apprise him of apprehensions that people might have, Justice Khehar said: “You never had to bring this up if you did not have any problem. And were you not an officer of this court previously when you appeared before us twice, thrice and argued this matter? You did not raise this objection then so why are you raising it now? It is very unfair.” Bhushan’s contentions had come after Justice Khehar said that the lawyer was making “serious allegations in a non-serious matter” and that he had nothing to corroborate the accusations.

“What was the tearing hurry (for filing the plea)? You have filed a petition with very serious allegations in a non-serious matter. We have been asking you to bring materials and giving you time but we should not be doing it. It is an unreasonable request. You had to bring your best evidence when you had filed the petition but here we are granting you time after time. What will others think? Are we siding with you in all this? You had to bring the material. and then argue this petition,” Justice Khehar had told Bhushan while deferring the matter to January 11.