Prashant Bhushan has filed an application in the Supreme Court on behalf of NGO ‘Common Cause’ to file additional documents in the Sahara/Birla payoff case.
He also filed 10 additional documents, along with the application.
It is submitted in the application that the circumstances make out a more than adequate case for directing a credible and independent investigation as per the law laid down by Constitution Bench in Lalita Kumari case.
According to Bhushan, the following facts make out a case for the court to interfere:
1) Raids were conducted by the CBI on the Birla Group and by the Income Tax Department on the Sahara Group,
2) Huge unaccounted amounts of cash was recovered in the raids,
3) Diaries, notebook, hand written papers, computer documents were recovered in the raid,
4) The information gathered shows bribery of politicians and civil servants,
5) All the explanations given by the Group or their officials were rejected by the I-T Department since all transactions were tallying with other records and that no person or group fabricates documents to implicate himself or itself, and
6) There has been no denial by anyone on the authenticity of the material placed before the court.
Meanwhile the Income Tax Settlement Commission (ITSC), Sahara India has been reportedly granted immunity from prosecution and penalty following raids conducted on November 2014 during which “diaries” listing alleged pay-offs to politicians were recovered. To this the Petitioner replied as follows:
“Settlement Commission, however, settled the case and absolved Sahara of all criminal and civil liability on specious grounds, despite the fact that petitioners’ counsel had sent them a letter on 08.11.2016 requesting them not to allow any settlement in the matter”.
When the matter was first taken by the Bench comprising Justice JS Khehar and Justice Arun Misra, it was made clear that there was no sufficient material to order investigation in the matter and the court asked Prashant Bhushan to submit sufficient material.
On December 14, Prashant Bhushan asked the bench whether it was unreasonable to seek more time, to complete the analysis of the voluminous documents, which was gathered only a few days ago. To this, Justice Khehar said yes, as the case cast aspersions on Constitutional functionary like the Prime Minister, who can’t work when the unsubstantiated allegations in the top court are kept pending for long.
When the case was taken up on December16 last year, Bhushan said he burnt midnight oil to meet the deadline, set by the Bench on December 14, for submission of additional evidence, and that he could not complete the voluminous evidence which he had gathered, and therefore, would still request for more time to analyse it.
Then he stunned the bench and those in the courtroom that he also had the unpleasant duty to alert the court that if the bench continued to hear it, it might be perceived as biased, because the file relating Justice Khehar’s elevation as the next Chief Justice of India is pending with the Government.
Justice Khehar asked Bhushan why he did not raise this issue on December 14, when the matter came up for hearing earlier. But that query was not answered by Bhushan. The bench then adjourned the matter to January 11, 2017.
This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.