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Lawyer Cannot Represent An Organization If He Is Part Of Its Executive Committee : SC In CPIL Plea In Haren Pandya Case [Read Judgment]

Manu Sebastian
5 July 2019 4:13 PM GMT
Lawyer Cannot Represent An Organization If He Is Part Of Its Executive Committee : SC In CPIL Plea In Haren Pandya Case [Read Judgment]
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While restoring the conviction and sentence of twelve accused in the Haren Pandya murder case, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the PIL filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation(CPIL) demanding further probe in the case.Observing that the PIL lacked bona fides and was motivated by extraneous reasons, the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran imposed a cost of Rs.50,000...

While restoring the conviction and sentence of twelve accused in the Haren Pandya murder case, the Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the PIL filed by Centre for Public Interest Litigation(CPIL) demanding further probe in the case.

Observing that the PIL lacked bona fides and was motivated by extraneous reasons, the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Vineet Saran imposed a cost of Rs.50,000 on CPIL.

"We are not happy the way in which the writ petition has been filed. It has been filed acting obviously in conjunction with the accused persons in the case as the counsel for accused has admittedly supplied the documents to the petitioner and had consultations", observed Justice Arun Mishra in the judgment.

The Court also found fault with Advocate Prashant Bhushan for representing CPIL even as he remained a member of its governing body.

This is contrary to Rule 8 of Chapter II of Part VI, Section 1 of Rules of Conduct framed by Bar Council of India, which forbids an advocate from representing an organization if he is a member of its executive committee of it, said the Court. 

Bhushan replied that he had challenged the validity of the Rule in the Delhi High Court and that the BCI had stated that it will amend it. 

The Court refused to buy this argument saying that so long as the Rule has not been struck down by a Court, it has to be complied with.

"...until it is declared ultra vires, we hold that the advocates are bound to observe the same", the Court said.

In the petition filed last January, CPIL said that need for further probe into the day light murder of former Gujarat Home Minister arose in the light of "startling revelations" by Azam Khan, a witness in the Sohrabuddin case. As per the petition, Azam Khan had given a statement last November during the trial of Sohrabuddin case that Sohrabuddin Sheikh had confided to him that Haren Pandya was murdered as part of a "contract" given by former IPS officer DG Vanzara. Khan also revealed that Sohrabuddin, along with his associate Tulsiram Prajapati and two others, had murdered Pandya as part of that contract, the petition stated.

The Supreme Court said that Azam Khan's statements cannot be given any value. He made the statements nearly fifteen years after the incident, and had not revealed it to the CBI at any of the earlier stages of investigation of Sohrabuddin case. 

"it appears to be clearly a motivated one and bundle of falsehood as he could not give any reason for omission in the previous statement in which also this issue was not involved", the bench observed.

The petition also referred to a conversation recorded in the book "Gujarat Files" written by journalist Rana Ayyub. As per the conversation, YA Shaik, a CBI officer who handled the case, revealed to Ayyub that the CBI had not done any investigation of its own and merely repeated what was told to them by the Gujarat Police. He also reportedly revealed that Haren Pandya's murder was a political conspiracy and that several politicians as well as IPS officers including DG Vanzara were involved in the conspiracy.

But the Court discarded Ayyub's book by saying:

"The Book by Rana Ayyub is of no utility. It is based upon surmises, conjectures, and suppositions and has no evidentiary value. The opinion of a person is not in the realm of the evidence. There is a likelihood of the same being politically motivated, cannot be ruled out"

The  Court also did not attach much value to the fact that the CBI had omitted Jagruti Ben, the widow of Pandya, from the list of witnesses. The Court said that except for mentioning the time when Pandya left home on the fateful day, there was nothing substantive in her statement, and therefore her omission was inconsequential.

It also noted that plea for further probe by Vithalbai Pandya, the father of Haren Pandya, was dismissed by the Gujarat High Court and SC.

" no case is made out on the basis of material placed on record so as to direct further investigation or re­investigation. There is absolutely no material for that purpose. The matter has already attained finality due to the dismissal of SLP. Even otherwise the petition has been based upon reports in the newspapers/magazines", said the Court. 

It was on the morning of March 26, 2003 that Haren Pandya got shot-dead in his car as he was returning from morning walk. He was the home minister of Gujarat then. The case was investigated by CBI team under Y C Modi, who is the present Chief of National Investigation Agency.

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