On August 30, the Bench had restrained the Karnataka from appointing a new SPP
The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Karnataka government to revoke the August 26 notification removing G. Bhavani Singh as the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) in the disproportionate assets case against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and three others pending in a Bangalore court.
A Bench of Justices B.S. Chauhan and S.A. Bobde passed the order, acting on a writ petition filed by Ms. Jayalalithaa, Sasikala, Ilavarasi and V.N. Sudhakaran.
On August 30, the Bench had restrained the State government from appointing a new SPP. On September 4, it directed the government to produce the records pertaining to the appointment and removal of Mr. Singh.
During the resumed hearing on Friday, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati appearing for Karnataka along with the State Advocate General Ravivarma Kumar, produced the file and told the Bench that the previous SPP B.V. Acharya who resigned in August 2012 was asked by the then Karnataka Chief Justice to continue. Mr. Acharya’s resignation was accepted by the Acting Chief Justice on January 17 and on the same day four names were sent to the ACJ for picking one person.
However, the ACJ appointed Mr. Bhavani Singh, who was not in the panel of four names.
Information on how he came to be appointed would be found in the Karnataka High Court Registry, he said, and maintained that his appointment was not done in consultation with the Chief Justice.
Justice Chauhan told the AG “it is a fact that when the former SPP Mr. Acharya resigned, the views of the High Court Chief Justice were sought for its acceptance. But this consultation process was not followed in the removal of Mr. Singh. You [State] withdraw this [August 26] order and take steps [for his removal] in accordance with law.”
The AG told the Bench “we will withdraw the August 26 notification and go to the Chief Justice with all the materials seeking removal of Mr. Singh. Once this is accepted we will place before the CJ a panel of names for appointing another SPP.”
Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Ms. Jayalalithaa, said:
“These are political battles fought here. Mr. Bhavani Singh was appointed on February 2 and he was removed when he had almost completed the arguments. I [Ms. Jayalithaa] have already suffered for 17 years because of the delay.
The whole idea is to keep the sword hanging when elections are round the corner and to keep the pot boiling. If the August 26 notification is withdrawn then Mr. Singh must continue in his post.”
Justice Chauhan, however, told the counsel “we cannot say that Karnataka government should not withdraw the notification is proper procedure was followed.”
Senior counsel Vikas Singh appearing for DMK general secretary K. Anbazhagan submitted that it was unprecedented that the accused should decide as to who should be the SPP.
He said he should be allowed to continue with the writ petition in the Karnataka High Court challenging the appointment of Mr. Singh.
In a brief order the Bench said “the Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati informed the court that the notification [removing Mr. Singh] dated August 26 is hereby withdrawn. He further states that he will place before the Chief Justice [of the High Court] on an urgent basis all relevant materials, including the aspect of withdrawal of the notification appointing Mr. Singh. If so withdrawn, he will submit a panel of senior lawyers for appointment of SPP. This order will not affect the rights of the parties.”