Former Gujarat minister of state for home Amit Shah Wednesday told the Supreme Court that there could be no hearing of cases at judges’ houses away from the public gaze.
He said this while referring to the Oct 30, 2010 hearing by the apex bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice R.M. Lodha on the Central Bureau of Investigation plea seeking a stay on the Gujarat High Court’s verdict granting bail to him. He said the hearing was held at the house of Justice Aftab Alam here.
Appearing for Shah, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani told the apex court bench of Justice Alam and Justice R.P. Desai that “there can be no hearing of the cases at judges’ bungalows”.
Jethmalani referred to a case in Britain wherein an uncontested divorce plea was set aside merely on the grounds that it was heard in judges’ library where the public access was barred by a plate on the door describing the place as “private”.
The senior counsel also referred to several other judgments to buttress his point opposing the holding of court hearings at judges’ houses.
Assailing the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for making Shah an accused and describing him as the head of an extortion syndicate in Gujarat, Jethmalani said that the investigating agency thought that it was “immune (from any legal action) and could make any allegation against the poor man (Amit Shah)”.
“I am an elected representative of the people. You can’t say that I am the head of the extortion syndicate without any evidence,” Jethmalani told the court.
“The CBI had given 200 complaints against Amit Shah to the Gujarat government alleging extortion. In 197, Amit Shah’s name is not there and in the rest three see the context in which he had been mentioned,” the senior counsel told the court.
Describing Shah as innocent and a victim of political rivalry, Jethmalani told the court that the “central government is out to demolish the Gujarat government which is a thorn in their flesh. It is a rivalry between the politicians”.
He assailed the Jan 12 judgment of the apex court directing a CBI probe into the 2005 Sohrabuddin Sheikh staged shootout by Gujarat Police.
The senior counsel told the court that one of the two judges, who ordered a CBI probe, should have recused himself because the investigating agency was looking into the Ghaziabad district courts provident fund scam in which the name of the judge himself had figured. The judge has retired now.
Jethmalani said the judge was faced with a scenario where on account of the CBI probe not only his liberty but even his post retirement benefits were at stake. “Justice should not only be done but seen to be done,” the senior counsel said.
The judge was later cleared of any wrong doing in the provident fund scam.
Hitting out at the CBI investigation in the shootout case, Jethmalani told the court that not once was Amit Shah questioned by the investigating agency before he was named in the charge sheet.
When the court inquired if the “charge sheet was filed against you even without interacting with you”, Jethmalani said: “Not even once.”
Applauding the earlier charge sheet filed by police in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case, Jethmalani said that the charge sheet at least said that seven Andhra Pradesh police officers were involved in the case along with Rajasthan and Gujarat police.
He said the the CBI charge sheet completely blacked out this fact.
Reading from the affidavit file by Amit Shah, Jethmalani sought to give a new twist to the Sohrabuddin Sheikh case saying that he was being tracked on the basis of inputs by the Intelligence Bureau, under the central government, and the shootout was a joint operation of the security agencies.
Jethmalani will continue with his arguments Thursday