The Supreme Court on Thursday reiterated that challenges to the orders passed by the Special Court during the pendency of trial in the infamous Coal Scam can only be entertained by the Apex Court.
The Bench comprising Justice M.B. Lokur, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice A.K. Sikri refused to interfere with the order passed on 25 July, 2014, wherein the Supreme Court had ordered that the High Courts cannot entertain appeals challenging orders of the Special Courts.
“While dealing with the submissions made in relation to the aforesaid order (submissions that are similar to those made before us) this Court held that considering the width and ambit of the investigation which could even spread overseas and also considering the larger public interest, the aforesaid order was passed reserving the right of the accused to move this Court if there is a grievance against the order passed by the Special Judge during the trial and that this would ensure that progress in the trial is not hampered. Such an order was permissible under the provisions of Article 136 read with Article 142 of the Constitution. It was also made clear that the parties cannot invoke the jurisdiction under Article 226 or 227 of the Constitution or under Section 482 of the Cr.P.C. so as to ensure compliance with the orders passed by this Court otherwise the very purpose and object of the order would be defeated… we do not think it appropriate to revisit the order of 25th July, 2014 passed by this Court nor do we think it appropriate to modify that order,” the Court observed.
The Court had been approached by Congress leader Navin Jindal, who had sought to challenge the Trial Court’s order before the Delhi High Court. Mr. Jindal has been charged with corruption, criminal misconduct, cheating and criminal conspiracy in relation to the coal blocks that were allocated to the Jindal Group of companies.
Justifying its order, the Court explained that the order does not take away any right from the accused and opined that the forum for seeking the right has only been varied and not denied.
It, thereby, observed, “Very often, public interest is lost sight of while dealing with an accused person and the rights of an accused person are given far greater importance than societal interests and more often than not greater importance than the rights of individual victims. This is a delicate balance to be struck and we do not see any curtailment of any fundamental right of the appellants or any violation of any substantive law if there is a change in the forum in the exercise of the rights of the appellants given the nature of the allegations against them and the wide impact on society. It is not as if the appellants have been denuded of their rights. It is only that their rights have been placed in the proper perspective and they have been enabled to exercise their rights before another forum.”
The Bench, further, rejected the allegation of violation of Article 14 by the impugned order, and explained that the Coal scam cases were being treated differently from other cases “since they have had a massive impact on public interest and there have been large scale illegalities associated with the allocation of coal blocks”.