Friday, October 7, 2022

Sad plight of Government maligning the image of Judiciary: CJI NV Ramana

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The Chief Justice of India NV Ramana today in Supreme Court criticized the latest trend to malign the image of Indian Judiciary, that also by none other than the Government..

The CJI sadly said that earlier the attempts to cast aspersions on Judges was the work of private players who could not be satisfied for some odd reasons but now the Government too has joined the campaign.

The CJI saidThis is a new trend where government is maligning judges. This is unfortunate and we are seeing this in court also. This was resorted to by only private parties earlier. This we are seeing everyday,” 

Siddharth Dave, a senior Advocate who was appearing for the petitioner while CJI spoke this, also submitted that this trend “cannot be countenanced.”

The Bench headed by the CJI NV Ramana was hearing a plea against an order of the Chhattisgarh High Court which had quashed a first information report (FIR) under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Today, appearing for the petitioner Senior Counsel Siddharth Dave submitted that the order of the High court said that allegations levelled against the state’s former principal secretary Aman Singh and his wife Yasmin Singh were prima facie based upon “probabilities” and on the basis of probability any “person cannot be prosecuted”. 

To which CJI took strong objection and said don’t try to malign the judges. 

Senior Advocate Rakesh Dwivedi appearing for the State Government said he is not pressing that point at all. 

“Now a days we are seeing that Government is maligning the judges. It’s becoming a trend,” observed the CJI. 

The Court has list the matter for further hearing on 18th April, 2022. 

The bench was seized of the matter filed against the order of the Chhattisgarh High Court which had quashed the FIR registered against the against the state’s former principal secretary Aman Singh and his wife for offences punishable under Section 13(1)(b), 13(2) of the Act, 1988 & Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code. 

The petitioners Aman Singh and his wife Yasmin Singh before the high court had contended that the said FIR purports to provide factual details (such as the bank balances, the values of certain immovable properties held and sold by them, the amount of salary and interest received by them and the amounts held in their provident fund accounts), the FIR is completely silent as to the extent of the disproportionate assets held by the petitioners (either in figures or as a percentage), nor there is even a whisper regarding the alleged ‘criminal conspiracy’ between them to justify charging them under Section 120B  of the IPC. On the contrary, after narrating various details regarding the bank balances, immovable properties, salaries etc the FIR vaguely claims at the end that between the check period, i.e. 2004 and December 2018, the petitioner and his wife had lawfully received an income of INR Rs 3,33,71,290/- and that in comparison they allegedly hold ‘disproportionate assets’.

The High court noted that, “From bare perusal for the FIR, the allegation of disproportionate income is made out or not, it is expedient for this Court to examine whether from bare perusal of the contents of FIR, offence said to have been committed is made out or not, then only the FIR can be quashed by this Court.”

“The FIR is silent with regard to quantum of the disproportionate income, which is the paramount factors for involving any person in implicating any person for commission of offence under Section 13 (1)(b), 13 (2) of the Act, 1988. These basic ingredients are not reflected from the bare perusal of the FIR.   

The FIR has been registered on the basis of complaint made by one Uchit Sharma for alleged disproportionate property against the petitioners and involvement of the petitioner in various scam and money laundering, but the FIR does not speak about how the petitioner involved in the alleged scam as mentioned in the FIR. It has also been stated in the FIR that the petitioner was working in various posts of profit and working as influential person and the fact is not in dispute that the petitioner was on deputation and worked as Joint Secretary with the Government of Chhattisgarh, definitely he has posted in the office of Chief Minister of State, therefore, merely his working as Joint Secretary cannot be said to have been commission of offence   under Section 13 (1)(b), 13 (2) of the Act, 1988 and Section 120B of IPC, thus, the registration of FIR is nothing but an abuse of process of law 

The FIR nowhere discloses commission of any offence with definite facts and figures. The FIR is based upon probabilities. As per the Act, 1988, it is for the prosecution to establish prima facie offence under Section 13 (1)(b) read with Section 13 (2) of the Act, 1988 against Government servant by reflecting in the FIR, which is initiation of prosecution, then only, prosecution can be started to investigate the offence as mentioned in the FIR. In absence of any specific allegation made in the FIR, merely on probability, the petitioner cannot be prosecuted,” it added. 

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