Govt’s report in sealed cover available on Twitter: Swamy to SC

New Delhi: BJP leader Subramanian Swamy today took a dig at the Centre and told the Supreme Court that a document placed by it in a sealed cover, in a case relating to senior ED officer Rajeshwar Singh, was available on micro-blogging site Twitter.

After a vacation bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjay Kishan Kaul pronounced its order in the matter and said the government was free to look into the “serious” charges against Singh, Swamy told the apex court that the document has been “put on Twitter”.

“It (document) should not have been put on Twitter,” the bench said, adding, “It should not have been put in public domain”.

Justice Kaul observed, “everything is on Twitter nowadays”.

After the pronouncement of the order, Swamy told the bench that he was “happy” with it.

Later in the day, Swamy held a press conference at his official residence here and made public the document, which he claimed was placed in a sealed cover before the top court by the Centre.

He alleged that there was no basis for the Ministry of Finance to file a report of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) in the court as it was of year 2016, which was already available on Twitter.

Swamy claimed in the press conference that “some powerful people” were after Singh as he was investigating the Aircel-Maxis deal case in which a second charge sheet would be filed in a trial court shortly.

He said that even after the 2016 report of R&AW, Singh was promoted to the post of Joint Director of Enforcement Directorate (ED) and at that time, there was no problem.

However, now in 2018, Singh’s promotion as Additional Director of the agency has been held up based on the same report, he said.

The BJP leader even targetted the law officer, who appeared for the Centre before the apex court in the matter today, and asked on whose instructions had he opposed him and Singh in the court.

“As per my information, the PMO, the National Security Advisor and the Cabinet Secretariat was not informed that the Additional Solicitor General will be opposing my petition. He should be removed,” he said at the press conference.

Govt free to probe charges against ED officer probing Aircel-Maxis case: SC

New Delhi: No officer should be under a “cloud” and blanket clean chit cannot be given to anybody, the Supreme Court observed today, as it told the government that it was free to look into the “serious” allegations against ED officer Rajeshwar Singh, who is probing the “highly sensitive” 2G spectrum case and the Aircel-Maxis deal.

A vacation bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, which was of the view that the sensitive matter involved national security, said the allegations against Singh were required to be looked into and the government should take a call whether he would have any role to play in the further probe.

Modifying its interim order granting Singh protection against an inquiry, the court referred to the Centre’s affidavit which stated that it did not intend to protect anybody, including the high or the mighty, and observed that it was nobody’s case that government was “seeking to thwart the investigation”.

The bench said it was “troubled” with the Centre’s response as documents placed before it in a sealed cover contained “startling” facts.

“We direct that the government is free to look into the materials against respondent number 3 (Rajeshwar Singh) and the same can be looked into,” the bench ordered.

“… It will be the call of the government whether Singh will have any role to play in the matter,” it said, referring that a charge sheet has already been filed in the Aircel-Maxis deal case.

During the arguments, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Vikramjit Banerjee, appearing for the Centre, said the government was willing to probe the charges that Singh had amassed disproportionate assets, as he handed over a communication in a sealed cover to the bench.

“Of course, the Supreme Court’s order (granting protection to Singh against inquiry) comes in our way,” the ASG said.

After perusing the document, the bench observed, “As a matter of fact, when there is an allegation, whether right or wrong, against you (Singh), it has to be looked into”.

“The other issue is that you should not be victimised. The third point is whether it would be appropriate for you to investigate when you are under a cloud and under investigation,” the bench said, adding “the things which have come before us are startling”.

“You are simply an officer. You can’t be given a blanket clean chit. Everybody is accountable. You must be accountable for any action. We need to ensure that you are accountable. We don’t want to damage you or comment against you. There are very serious allegations against you,” it told the officer. It also made it clear that it has not commented against anybody.

The bench noted that the government had assured that the probe in these cases would be done as per the time schedule fixed by the top court which, on March 12, had given a deadline of six months to the CBI and ED to complete the probe.

Senior advocate R S Suri, appearing for Singh, told the bench that there was a serious issue of maintainability of the plea filed by Rajneesh Kapur, who claims to be an investigative journalist who is seeking a probe against Singh for allegedly amassing assets which are disproportionate to his known source of income.

To this, the bench said, “We had given six months time (to CBI and ED to complete the ongoing investigation) and protection was granted (to Singh). This matter is highly sensitive from the country’s point of view. We cannot just divulge the content of this (communication in sealed cover) to anybody. It may prejudice your client (Singh) also. It is not advisable that it goes into public domain.”

“It is highly sensitive. Issues of nation’s security are involved. These are serious issues. We cannot shut our eyes to it,” the bench observed.

“The sensitive issue is the government’s response which has troubled us. Something very serious is there. We cannot say that ‘leave the matter’ or tie the hands of the government,” it said.

“Let there be a fair investigation and person, who is investigating, according to my opinion, should not have a cloud over him,” Justice Mishra observed.

At the outset, Kapur’s counsel claimed that after filing the plea, Kapur has been “gravely threatened” and sought protection for him. He also claimed that Singh has the “clout” and the top court’s earlier order says no action can be taken against this officer.

BJP leader Subramanian Swamy, who had filed a plea seeking to be impleaded as a party in Kapur’s plea, said Singh was promoted to the post of Joint Director in ED and full evaluation was done for it around two years ago.

To this, the bench said the issue of promotion of an officer was a personal thing.

Swamy, however, alleged that a top officer was “inimical” to Singh due to what had happened in the Nirav Modi’s case and he was willing to put it on an affidavit.

When the bench ordered that no personal insinuations should be made, Swamy said, “I am withdrawing it”.

He said that allegations were levelled against Singh but the probe agencies had given him a clean chit. “You could always call for a report from CBI, ED or any other agency and then come to a conclusion whether it is motivated or has some substance,” Swamy said.

The court disposed of the petitions filed by Kapur, Swamy and Singh, who had filed a separate plea seeking contempt action against Kapur.

Supreme Court holds Sidhu guilty in road rage case, spares him jail term

The Supreme Court today convicted Punjab Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu for voluntarily causing hurt to a 65-year-old man but spared him a jail term in the 1988 road rage case.

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul said Sidhu is guilty of Section 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and is fined Rs 1,000 for the offence.

“A1 (Sidhu) is guilty of Section 323 of IPC. Awarded no sentence but fine of Rs 1,000 for the offence. A2 (Rupinder Singh Sandhu) is acquitted,” the bench said.

On April 18, the apex court had reserved its judgement in the case in which Sidhu had claimed that evidence about the cause of death of the victim Gurnam Singh was contradictory and medical opinion on the issue was “vague”.

Besides Sidhu, who quit the BJP and joined the Congress days before the Punjab assembly election last year, an appeal was also filed by Rupinder Singh Sandhu, also convicted and sentenced to three years in jail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2006.

According to the prosecution, Sidhu and Sandhu were allegedly in a Gypsy parked in the middle of a road near the Sheranwala Gate Crossing in Patiala on December 27, 1988, when the victim and two others were on their way to the bank to withdraw money.

It was alleged that when they reached the crossing, Gurnam Singh, driving a Maruti car, found the Gypsy in the middle of the road and asked the occupants, Sidhu and Sandhu, to remove it. This led to heated exchanges.

The police had claimed that Singh was beaten up by Sidhu who later fled the crime scene. The victim was taken to a hospital where he was declared dead.

On April 12, the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government had favoured in the top court the high court’s judgement convicting and awarding of the three-year jail term to Sidhu.

Earlier, the counsel for the state had told the apex court that “the trial court verdict was rightly set aside by the High Court. Accused A1 (Navjot Singh Sidhu) had given fist blow to deceased Gurnam Singh leading to his death through brain hemorrhage”.

The state had argued that the trial court was wrong in its finding that the man had died of cardiac arrest and not brain haemorrhage.

The counsel for the complainant had argued that Sidhu’s sentence should be enhanced as it was a case of murder and the cricketer-turned-politician had deliberately removed the keys of deceased’s car so he did not get medical assistance.

Sidhu was acquitted of the murder charges by the trial court in September 1999.

However, the high court had reversed the verdict and held Sidhu and Sandhu guilty of culpable homicide not amounting to murder in December 2006. It had sentenced them to three years in jail and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on the convicts.

In 2007, the apex court had stayed the conviction of Sidhu and Sandhu in the case, paving the way for him to contest the by-poll for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat.

Punjab to Supreme Court: High Court verdict convicting Navjot Singh Sidhu correct

The Punjab government today told the Supreme Court that the Punjab and Haryana High Court was correct in convicting its incumbent minister Navjot Singh Sidhu in the road rage case.

Counsel for Punjab government told a bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul that Patiala resident Gurnam Singh had died after he was given fist blow by Sidhu.

The government said the trial court was wrong in its finding that Singh had died of cardiac arrest and not brain hemorrhage.

“There is not a single evidence that suggest that the cause of death was cardiac arrest and not brain hemorrhage. The trial court verdict was rightly set aside by the High Court. Accused A1 (Navjot Singh Sidhu) had given fiesty blow to deceased Gurnam Singh leading to his death through brain hemorrhage,” the state government counsel told the bench.

Full Court reiterates CJ’s assurance to Bar Assns

Full Court reiterates CJ's assurance to Bar Assns
Full Court reiterates CJ’s assurance to Bar Assns

A Full Court meeting today reiterated the assurance of Chief Justice of the Madras High Court Sanjay Kishan Kaul to the Bar Council and Bar Associations recently that pending examination of the amendments to the Advocates’ Act, no precipitative action will be taken against Advocates.

The full court meeting of the judges of the high court made it clear that the assurance will continue to operate subject to the advocates and Bar Associations withdrawing boycott of courts and protests and resuming work forthwith, failing which necessary action as per norms already laid down would follow.

In the meeting, it was decided that suggestions submitted by various Bar Associations will be examined by a committee to be constituted for the purpose by the Chief Justice, to suggest, as necessary, modifications/amendments to rules.

The matter relates to recent amendments to the Advocates Act. The Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA), Women Lawyers Association (WLA) and other Bar Associations had conducted a rally recently opposing the amended rules.

The leaders of various Bar Associations had met the Chief Justice a few days ago and submitted a memorandum demanding withdrawal of amendments.

( Source – PTI )