Clearing the way for the hearing of the CBI’s leave to appeal against the trial court’s acquittal of those previously accused in the alleged 2G scam case, the Delhi High Court on Monday held that changes made to the Prevention of Corruption Act in 2018 — which the accused had cited to call the CBI plea infructuous — do not apply to the alleged offences that took place under the 1988 anti-corruption law.
It also settled the issue of lack of sanction, saying the challenge is not maintainable as it is beyond the scope of Section 378(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Justice Brijesh Sethi, who was hearing the case and is going to retire on November 30, also released the matter from his board, stating that the pleas will be listed before a new bench.
Dismissing the petitions, the court said the 2018 amendment relating to Section 13(1)(d) “does not reveal any intention to obliterate the earlier law”.
The applicants had sought relief saying the provision defining criminal misconduct by a public servant was deleted by the 2018 amendment.
The court further held that the CBI is not bound to disclose or furnish on record the copy of any approval, sanction or notes for filing of appeal. The essence of Section 378(2) CrPC is the presentation of appeal to the High Court and not the preceding steps like the process of formation of the opinion and the subjective satisfaction of the decision of the government to present an appeal, said the court.
The court said it is not supposed to go for the judicial review of internal decisions of the Central government’s substantive right to file an appeal. It said the petition seeking leave to appeal has been filed by the special public prosecutor, who is duly authorised to do the same, and is being conducted by the Additional Solicitor General, who is also fully empowered to do so.
The bench said that it will be in the interest of justice if the applications for release of properties are decided only after hearing arguments in the leave to appeal. However, it added that in case of inordinate delay in disposal of leave of appeal, the parties would be at liberty to approach the court for filing of fresh applications for release of attached properties.
Former Union telecom minister A Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and others were acquitted in the case of money laundering and corruption in 2017.
Due to closure of physical courts on account of the pandemic, the petitions against the acquittals in the alleged 2G scam case had not come up for hearing since March. The ED and CBI approached the HC in August for an early hearing in the case on account of the imminent retirement of Justice Brijesh Sethi, who had part-heard one of the appeals in the matter since October 2019. On September 29, Justice Sethi allowed the application and began hearing on a day-to-day basis from October 5 but on most dates could only hear the applications, which were dismissed on Monday.
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