The Supreme Court should not cross the Lakshman Rekha and must act in accordance with law, senior counsel for the Centre P.P. Rao said on Thursday, opposing its monitoring of the 2G spectrum case probe.
Quoting a series of three-Bench judgments, including the recent one relating to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the Zakia Jafri case, Mr. Rao said: “Once a charge sheet has been filed in the competent court after completion of investigation, the process of monitoring by the Supreme Court will come to an end.”
However, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation, said the court should continue to monitor the probe into the role of the former Minister, Dayanidhi Maran, and in respect of Loop. The agency would submit a status report whenever the court wanted, he told a Bench of .Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly.
When Justice Singhvi asked Mr. Rao whether the Centre was withdrawing its earlier statement, made by the then Solicitor-General, that the court could monitor the case, counsel said: “I am not withdrawing the statement. We have crossed that stage. The investigation is over and the charge sheet has been filed in the competent court, which has taken cognisance of it, and as per law, monitoring must come to an end.”
When Justice Singhvi countered him, saying law evolved from case to case, Mr. Rao replied: “You [the court] can't cross Lakshman Rekha. If you feel that the law requires a change, then refer the matter to a larger Bench.”
Justice Ganguly said: “Had Sita not crossed Lakshman Rekha, Raavan would not have been killed. Lakshman Rekha is not sacrosanct. Lakshman Rekha is for a limited purpose.”
Quoting the order in the Zakia case, Justice Singhvi said: “There is no absolute embargo on the court's power to either monitor or order further investigation.” He pointed out that in the 2G case, the investigation was still continuing in other respects.
When Mr. Rao reiterated that monitoring would end the moment the charge sheet was filed, Justice Ganguly reminded counsel that monitoring of investigation became necessary in view of the emerging corruption in high places. Justice Singhvi supplemented what Justice Ganguly said with the remark: “The malaise of corruption is widespread. For doing justice, we have to re-fashion tradition.”
Mr. Rao will continue his arguments on September 27, dealing with the investigation of fresh documents submitted by Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy against Home Minister P. Chidambaram (who was formerly Finance Minister).
Mr. Venugopal relied on the statement of the former Finance Secretary and present Reserve Bank of India Governor, D. Subbarao, to drive home the point that the Finance Ministry had always favoured auctioning 2G spectrum, but it was the Department of Telecommunications which was adamant about the first come, first served policy.