"Justice cannot be purchased like this", a "furious" Supreme Court said on Wednesday while coming down heavily on VVIP chopper scam accused Gautam Khaitan in a case related to the black money law.
The apex court, dealing with the issue as to whether the 2016 black money law could be allowed to operate with retrospective effect from July 2015 to book and probe offenders, took umbrage at Khaitan for seeking four weeks time to make his stand clear.
He was seeking time to respond to the Centre's appeal against the Delhi High Court order which had said that the 2016 black money law cannot be allowed to operate with retrospective effect from July 2015.
The top court had in May this year stayed the high court's May 16 order and had said it would hear the matter.
The approach by Khaitan's counsel was not appreciated by the top court which said it was a delaying tactic and to avoid the bench which was hearing the matter.
"What is your effort, we understand that. We are averse to it. Do not speak. We are furious. This is not the way. You want to avoid the bench. Justice cannot be delayed like this," a bench of justices Arun Mishra and M R Shah told the lawyer appearing for Khaitan.
"Do not do this non-sense. Justice cannot be purchased like this," the bench said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that an important "question of law" is involved in the case.
After the bench said it would hear the matter on September 17, Khaitan's counsel said, "We want to file our reply (to Centre's plea). Give us four weeks time to file reply".
The contention by Khaitan's counsel irked the bench which said, "No. Not this way. We deprecate this kind of work. This is not the way to behave in the court. What is happening in this court? Not this way. It should not have happened in the open court. You are doing something very objectionable."
The bench further said, "You are lawyers and you should protect the law. The way you have conducted yourself is not proper."
However, Khaitan's counsel apologised to the bench and said, "I was only requesting that give me whatever time the court feel to file a reply."
The bench asked the counsel to file their response by September 17 and posted the matter for hearing on September 18.
During the hearing, the bench also observed that the high court's order appears to be improper.
The apex court had in May stayed the high court order which had restrained the Income Tax (I-T) department from taking any action against Khaitan, against whom a black money case has been lodged.
The high court, in its interim order, had stayed the Centre's notification to make operational the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, with effect form July 1, 2015.
On invoking the black money law with retrospective effect, the high court had said that Parliament, in its wisdom, had enacted the Act which was to come into force from April 1, 2016 and as the date was expressly decided by Parliament, it could not be made applicable with retrospective effect by way of a notification.
Khaitan is one of the accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam.