The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Special Court dealing with the 2G spectrum case, in which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed its first charge sheet on April 2, to conduct a day-to-day trial.
A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly, while giving this order, also directed the Centre to appoint U.U. Lalit, senior advocate, as the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) to conduct the trial, ignoring the objections of the Centre and the Enforcement Directorate that he was not qualified for such appointment.
The Bench, in its order, said: “We make it clear that any objection about appointment of Special Public Prosecutor or his assistant advocates or any prayer for staying or impeding the progress of the trial can be made only before this court and no other court shall entertain the same. The trial must proceed on a day-to-day basis.”
The Bench said: “Having regard to the larger issues of public interest of transparent governance, this Court has been passing various orders for monitoring of the investigation and also by giving direction for setting up separate Special Courts. These steps are taken by this Court in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 136 [appellate jurisdiction of Supreme Court] read with Article 142 [orders passed to do substantive justice].”
The Bench noted that it was on the suggestion of the court, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the CBI, recommended the name of Mr. Lalit for SPP. “From the various orders passed in this case on different dates, it is clear that this Court has not only directed CBI investigation in the matter, this Court has [also] been monitoring the said investigation at various stages.”
The Bench said: “Having regard to the larger issues of public interest involved in proper investigation of the case and the ultimate unearthing of the crime, this Court has accepted the prayers of the parties.”
On the Centre's contention that it was the prerogative of the government to appoint the Public Prosecutor who fulfilled the qualifications prescribed under the law, the Bench said: “Under our Constitutional and statutory framework, there is nothing known as prerogative. Having regard to the larger issues of public interest of transparent governance, this Court has been passing various orders for monitoring of the investigation and also by giving direction for setting up separate Special Courts.”
It said: “A Public Prosecutor is really a Minister of Justice and his job is none other than assisting the State in the administration of justice and, in fact, he is not a representative of any party. Therefore, there is a public element in such an appointment. In the appointment of Public Prosecutor, the principle of master-servant does not apply. Therefore, we are unable to accept the contention of the Union of India and we hold that in the interest of a fair prosecution of the case, appointment of Mr. U.U. Lalit is eminently suitable. Considering the magnitude of the case, we are of the view that Mr. Lalit may choose two persons from the said panel.”