Observing that it cannot give directions for a probe only because big names are involved, the Supreme Court Friday declined to order an inquiry on the basis of Income Tax papers relating to raids at Aditya Birla Group and Sahara companies, which allegedly recorded entries of pay-offs to politicians.
A bench of Justices J S Khehar and Arun Mishra maintained that ordering an investigation based merely on unverified entries made in a diary or on a computer would have “far-reaching” consequences since “unscrupulous people” could bring the entire world and even the Prime Minister under a cloud by simply recording entries of pay-offs.
The court said that the documents adduced by NGO ‘Common Cause’ were neither authentic nor credible enough for an inquiry to be launched into the veracity of the entries on payments allegedly made to various politicians.
Demanding a court-monitored probe by a special investigation team, the NGO has alleged a “cover-up” following raids conducted by the Income Tax Department against Aditya Birla Group companies in October 2013 and on the Sahara India Group in November 2014.
Arguing for the NGO, senior lawyer Shanti Bhushan urged the bench to initiate a probe into the contents of papers recovered during the raids and the appraisal reports prepared by the Income Tax department later.
But the bench pointed out that papers attached by Common Cause with its application were not only illegible but also did not explain why these should be treated as reliable.
“Who has made these entries? Whose computer was this? Tomorrow, if a man makes entries alleging 100 people have been paid money, should we be initiating inquiry against all of them?” the bench asked Bhushan.
Bhushan replied that all these questions could be answered once the court orders an investigation but the bench responded that there had to be some trustworthy evidence to even launch a probe.
“If we accept what you say, then somebody can tomorrow make an entry that I sent PM this much of money… see how far-reaching this could be. We are not shying away from taking action against anybody but you must have something even prima facie to show wrongdoing. We cannot initiate proceedings only because you name a big man. There has to be something,” it said.
The court said that if investigations were to be ordered on the basis of computer entries, the entire world could be roped in. “If any suspicion arouses our conscience, it is a good suspicion but your suspicion does not do it… this is only insinuation. Show us better material because we are not satisfied at all with this. It is zero for us,” stated the bench.
At this, Bhushan sought three weeks to return with better material. The bench adjourned the matter to December 14 but added that Common Cause should take its petition back from the court in case it fails to place credible evidence on record.