The petition sought to restrain the media from publishing tapped telephone conversations
The Supreme Court on Wednesday frowned upon Amar Singh, former general secretary of Samajwadi Party, for filing a frivolous petition in 2006 seeking to restrain the media from publishing/telecasting the tapped telephone conversations with various persons.
Dismissing the petition and thereby vacating the interim stay against publication/telecast, a Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A. K. Ganguly said: “It is clear the writ petition is frivolous and is speculative in character. This Court is of the opinion that the so-called legal questions on tapping of telephone cannot be gone into on the basis of a petition which is so weak in its foundation.” The Bench said: “It is very disturbing to find that on the basis of such improper and slipshod affidavit, notice was issued on the petition.”
Writing the judgment, Justice Ganguly said: “Courts have, over the centuries, frowned upon litigants who, with intent to deceive and mislead the courts, initiated proceedings without full disclosure of facts. Courts held that such litigants, who have come with “unclean hands” are not entitled to be heard on the merits of their case. The instant writ petition is an attempt by the petitioner to mislead the Court on the basis of frivolous allegations and by suppression of material facts.”
The Bench pointed out that in view of such incorrect presentation of facts, this court had issued notice and also passed the injunction order “which is still continuing. No case of tapping of telephone has been made out against the statutory authorities in view of the criminal case which is going on and especially in view of the petitioner's stand that he is satisfied with the investigation in that case.”
On Mr. Singh withdrawing his allegations against Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the Bench said: “When the matter has come up for contested hearing, he suddenly withdraws his allegations against the respondent no. 7 and feels satisfied with the investigation of the police in connection with the case of forgery. This court wants to make it clear that an action at law is not a game of chess. A litigant who comes to court and invokes its writ jurisdiction must come with clean hands. He cannot prevaricate and take inconsistent positions.”
On the service provider Reliance Infocomm tapping his telephone, the Bench said: “It is no doubt true that the service provider has to act on an urgent basis and has to act in public interest. But in a given case, like the present one, where the impugned communication [from Delhi Police] dated November 9, 2005, is full of gross mistakes, the service provider while immediately acting upon the same, should simultaneously verify the authenticity of the same from the author of the document.”
The Bench said: “The service provider has to act as a responsible agency and cannot act on any communication. Sanctity and regularity in official communication in such matters must be maintained especially when the service provider is taking the serious step of intercepting the telephone conversation of a person and, by doing so, is invading the right of the person concerned - which is a fundamental right protected under the Constitution, as has been held by this court.” The Bench said, the petitioner, if so advised, might proceed against the service provider before the appropriate forum in accordance with law.