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Vodafone case: SC rejects plea questioning CJI,fines petitioner

The man who moved it was charged with attempting to “destroy reputations and demolish institutions”.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: March 3, 2012 1:44:38 am

A petition suggesting conflict of interest by Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia in the Vodafone tax case suffered a short life in the Supreme Court today before being dismissed. The man who moved it was charged with attempting to “destroy reputations and demolish institutions”.

A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai said it was the “most irresponsible petition” they had ever come across. Petitioner lawyer Manoharlal Sharma was pulled up for “wasting the time” of the court.

When Sharma urged the court to read his petition closely before coming to any conclusions,a visibly upset Justice Alam spoke for the bench that they had gone “line by line”. “Look at how you make statements about an Additional Solicitor General… You can be sued for defamation,” the court said.

It imposed Rs 50,000 as costs on Sharma,who has to pay it to the Supreme Court Employees’ Welfare Association in a month. Insistent pleas by the lawyer to reduce the amount had no effect on the court.

Sharma persisted in trying to read from his petition,including parts containing a plea for “re-confirmation” of whether Hoshnar Kapadia,a chartered accountant with Ernst & Young,was the son of CJI Kapadia.

If that was the case,the petition said,it would mean that the CJI heard the Vodafone tax case without having disclosed that his son worked at the very consultancy firm that advised Vodafone Group in 2007 on the Hutchison Whampoa Ltd deal.

On January 20,2012,a majority judgment authored by the CJI had declared that the income-tax department had no jurisdiction to tax the $11.076-billion offshore deal.

Sharma clarified,at the same time,that he had “no doubt about the integrity or honesty of our CJI”.

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