Directing JNUSU President Kanhaiya’s battery of top lawyers led by Soli Sorabjee to approach the Delhi High Court for his bail in the sedition case, the Supreme Court today said the apex court directly entertaining the plea would set a “dangerous proposition and precedent”.
“Why have you come to supreme court directly. If we entertain this it will be laying a dangerous proposition. It will open floodgates for all accused in similar situation to come to us directly. This will be witnessed especially in sensational cases. You have not even made an attempt to go to the High Court. This is not the only case such a situation will exist. Why coming here ? Why this short cut. If you are objected there then come here”, Justice J Chelameswar heading the two-judge bench before which Kanhaiya’s bail plea was listed told his lawyer Raju Ramachandran who had begun the arguments.
Ramachandran then replied that the surcharged environment at the Patiala House Court complex was not conducive for a hearing, much less for a fair trial.”Why we came directly is because this court has been hearing petition relating to denial of justice. This court is already looking into the whole issue in totality” he said.
Then Justice Chelameswar retorted: “What is under scrutiny is something different .law and order situation in patiala house, violence etc.… for bail you definitely approach the Delhi High Court”.
Ramachandran then tried saying that the High Court was also very close to Patiala House and was in the same hexagon and so lawyers and other elements from there could come there also.
Justice Chelameswar then replied in a lighter vein :”Sorry. If distance is the only criterion then we are equi-distant from patiala house”
Ramachandran got support from senior counsel Rajeev Dhawan who was also in the court-appointed panel which was rushed to Patiala House on February 17 during fresh violence, who said “people who have access to Patiala House have access to High Court also. Supreme Court is very secure as smart cards are required for a lawyer to enter”.
Asked for his view, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar vociferously pleaded with the court not to entertain and hear the bail plea saying the High Court was the appropriate forum.
“Even the petition does raise apprehensions about High Court. This is an improvement and an after thought. The bail plea cannot be tagged along with the proceedings here. what your lordships looking at is only confined to functioning of the court and the alleged violence which happened”, said the SG.
Kumar also pointed out that in the HC only the lawyers of accused have to go and accused does not have to be taken. “The argument that there are chances of atmosphere getting vitiated would have been valid if the accused also was to be taken”, he said.
SG also pointed out that there are several cases were movie stars, politicians and hardcore terrorists are produced in courts. The courts functioned smoothly even then.
“A message definitely should not go out that High Court was not a safe place and not capable of holding hearings in such cases”, he argued following which the bench formed an opinion that Kanhaiya Kumar shall be asked to approach the Delhi High Court for relief.
"Having regard to the background in which the instant application came to be filed, certain apprehensions were expressed at the Bar on behalf of petitioner and other members of Bar that some special precautions are required to be taken while proceedings are taken by Delhi High Court to ensure safety of counsel appearing for petitioner and journalists. We deem it appropriate to request the High Court to take such appropriate steps as it deems fit and proper to ensure the peaceful conduct of the proceedings. We also place on record that the Solicitor General appearing for the Union of India as well as the Commissioner of Police, Delhi, assure that all necessary precautions will be taken in consultation with the Registrar General of Delhi High Court for peaceful conduct of the case. We request the Delhi High Court to consider the application expeditiously and pass appropriate orders in accordance with law. After hearing the counsel for the petitioner, Solicitor General and the submissions of other members of the Bar (who volunteered to make submissions in this matter), we are of the opinion that the present petition be transmitted to the Delhi High Court for consideration of the prayer for bail of accused Kanhaiya Kumar. We also grant liberty to the petitioner to file such further petitions or other material which he deems appropriate to bring the application in tune with the requirement of law".