Jethmalani claims conflict of interest as Solicitor General seeks to appear for SIT on black money, SC asks Solicitor General for letter of authorisation
The Supreme Court today witnessed an unusual event of sorts as the Apex Court denied the Solicitor General to appear for the SIT in the Black Money case.
The Bench, headed by Chief Justice of India HL Dattu also had Justices Madan B Lokur and A K Sikri, who asked the Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar about the letter authorising him to appear for the SIT.
The issue arose as Senior Advocate Anil Divan, appearing for the Petitioner; Ram Jethmalani, raised the question of conflict of interest and reportedly said, “This is clear conflict of interest. How can a law officer for the union of India appear for SIT? SIT is an independent party in the case and has been set up on the orders of the court,”
Reportedly, Senior Advocate also expressed ‘surprise’ over the fact that the SG was appearing for SIT, whereas the Court orders mentioned him as appearing him on behalf of the Government, with the Attorney General.
Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar did try to counter the point and said that there may have been a ‘typographical error’ in the orders and that he appeared for the SIT on the last date. Mr. Divan then raised the point that no vakalantnama has been filed and it is then that the Bench asked the Solicitor General about the letter authorising him to appear for the SIT. Solicitor General Ranjit replied that he was not having the letter at the moment.
Thereafter, the Bench said, “Then you should not argue. You should sit down. Since there is an objection from the other side, we cannot let you appear without a document authorising you to appear,”
Meanwhile, the Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted to the Court that the government will not allow to go scot free on technical grounds such as limitation period coming to an end on March 31, 2015. The Court also observed, “We are confident that the central government will complete the proceedings relating to income tax on or before March 31, 2015. If on account of any reason, it cannot be done, we are confident again that they will pass appropriate orders, as suggested by the Attorney General,”
The Petitioner also asked the Court to make the investigation reports available to him. However, the Supreme Court left this question for SIT’s consideration. Mr. Jethmalani has also asked for fresh copies of correspondence between Indian and foreign governments on the black money issue, to which the government will have to file a reply by the next date of hearing.
The case will now be heard on January 20.
You may read more about the black money case here