A CBI court in Delhi has ordered an inquiry against the investigating officer of the probe agency on alleged charges of perjury for suppressing a legal opinion tendered by the Union Law Ministry in connection with a case registered against an Indian Revenue Service officer.
The order, issued on June 28 by special CBI judge Anju Bajaj Chandna, relates to a case registered against IRS officer Ashok Kumar Aggarwal who was discharged in March 2016 by the trial court after the Delhi High Court quashed sanction for his prosecution.
Aggarwal, who served as Deputy Director of Enforcement Directorate, had earlier been booked by the CBI in two cases.
Judge Chandna held that CBI investigating officer Sushil Dewan prima facie committed offences under IPC sections 191 (giving false evidence) and 209 (dishonestly making false claim in court). She has directed Dewan to appear before the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate for an inquiry into the matter under sections of the CrPC. The CMM court will hear the matter on September 28.
“The sanctity of legal proceedings cannot be allowed to be vitiated by any party, be it prosecuting agency. It is highly unexpected of an officer of investigating agency established by law, that he would make misleading and dishonest statement before the court, but in present case… IO Sushil Dewan deliberately came out with incorrect pleas and such conduct cannot be taken casually,” Chandna observed.
The order comes in connection with the plea filed on July 8, 2016 by Aggarwal, through his advocate Shubham Asri, for release of documents on the grounds that he stands discharged from the case and no appeal had been filed by CBI during the stipulated period. The documents relate to service records and documents seized by the CBI relating to his assets.
On August 2, 2016, a reply was filed by Dewan, wherein it was submitted that the “correspondence with the administrative ministry with respect to further legal action is underway and thus, it would not be prudent to return the seized documents”.
The court said that based on the RTI reply Aggarwal received from the Department of Revenue, the administrative ministry, legal opinion was tendered by the Minister of Law and Justice on June 8, 2016 ; and that in its legal opinion, Ministry of Law concurred with the Delhi High Court order to “put quietus to these proceedings and found no reasonable ground to further agitate in the matter”.
The court also pointed out that according to Aggarwal, the RTI reply from the Department of Revenue stated that the Law Ministry had also received a proposal for legal opinion from the CBI through its administrative ministry, the Department of Personnel and Training, for filing a special leave petition in the Supreme Court on June 8, 2016. The Law Ministry, according to the RTI, tendered the legal opinion that there was no ground to file a SLP, Aggarwal said.
The CBI, however, argued that once the Law Minister opined that “there appears no reasonable ground to further adjudicate the matter in the higher forum”, it was “proposed to again request DoPT to review the matter and for seeking the opinion of Attorney General” and that it had put up the correct position before the court.
But the court observed that Dewan, “instead of giving clear statement as to the position of legal opinion so received from the ministry, withheld the important information and chose to give misleading impression to the court by stating that correspondence with ministry is still underway”.