The Supreme Court on Monday faulted the CBI for opposing the bail of the former Telecom Secretary, Siddharth Behura, while it had not opposed the bail of the other accused in the 2G spectrum case.
Justice Singhvi, heading a Bench, told Additional Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran, appearing for the CBI: “Most of your evidence is documentary. Why should he [Mr. Behura] be kept in confines? He was influential in office. Now he is not in office. What influence does he have now? On principle we are not convinced.” The Bench included Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya.
Earlier, Mr. Parasaran submitted that his case had to be considered differently from other accused as Mr. Behura had played a pivotal role in the scam. He was the prime conspirator and had masterminded the scam and was very influential.
Senior counsel Aman Lekhi, appearing for Mr. Behura, contended that it was strange that the CBI was opposing his bail plea while it did not oppose that of others accused of accepting and offering bribe.
Mr. Behura had challenged the December 16, 2011 order of the Delhi High Court refusing him bail on the grounds that he was the perpetrator of the illegal design of the former Telecom Minister, A. Raja, and that he could not claim benefit of parity with 10 others released on bail. Mr. Behura contended that the reasoning was erroneous and violated various judgments of the Supreme Court. He sought bail and quashing of the impugned order.
Justice Singhvi responded, saying, “That is what is coming in our mind also.” However, Justice Singhvi told counsel that the bail plea of Mr. Behura would be posted before another Bench (of Justices Singhvi and H.L. Dattu) which granted bail to some of the accused in the case and directed that the matter be placed before the Chief Justice of India for posting it before that Bench along with the suo motu bail petition relating to R.K. Chandolia, the former private secretary.
On January 2, the Supreme Court extended the interim stay on the Delhi High Court order suspending the bail granted to Mr. Chandolia by the trial court. On December 1, 2011 the trial court granted bail to Mr. Chandolia and he was released from jail the same day. On December 2, 2011, the High Court passed a suo motu order which said “the decision [releasing Mr. Chandolia on bail] is going to have an impact on the bail application of Mr. Siddhartha Behura on which order was reserved [subsequently his bail was rejected]. In case Mr. Chandolia has not been released on bail, there shall be a stay against the operation of the said order.”
Mr. Chandolia, in his appeal, said the impugned order was liable to be set aside as before staying the order the judge ought to have issued notice to him as his liberty was at stake. The High Court judge had failed to consider that the petitioner was charged with less serious offences and every bail was to be decided on its own facts. The impugned order amounted to interference with due course of administration of justice without any reason and notice.