SC refuses to order probe into ‘Sahara-Birla papers’

Bench says that the material cited doesn’t arouse its conscience

November 26, 2016 01:48 am | Updated 02:18 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

A view of Supreme Court building in New Delhi.

A view of Supreme Court building in New Delhi.

The Supreme Court has refused to order an investigation into a tranche of documents recovered during raids at the offices of the Aditya Birla and Sahara groups in 2013 and 2014 that allegedly showed entries of “massive” bribes paid to high profile politicians and ministry officials.

A Bench of Justices J.S. Khehar and Arun Mishra said the entries did not “arouse its conscience” enough to order a probe. Among the records is an email dated November 16, 2012 found in the laptop of an Aditya Birla executive. It contained a cryptic entry of bribe paid to “Gujarat CM”. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had recently claimed in the Assembly that it was a reference to Peime Minister Narendra Modi.

High public functionary

“We cannot initiate an investigation just because a big man has been named by someone. He is a high public functionary and we cannot proceed on materials like this. We need better material,” Justice Khehar told senior advocate Shanti Bhushan, appearing for NGO Common Cause, on Friday. The court ordered the NGO to produce “better material” by December 14 or withdraw the case.

Appearing for the government, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the allegations were “malicious, scandalous and sheer kite-flying”.

Mr. Bhushan began his submissions with reference to records allegedly recovered from the Sahara India group premises in Delhi and Noida in raids conducted in November 2014.

“Whose documents are these?” Justice Khehar asked point-blank.

 

‘Not genuine’

When Mr. Bhushan replied that these were Sahara’s, Justice Khehar shot back: “Sahara never gives anything genuine. You must give something authentic for us to start an investigation.”

Mr. Bhushan then referred to the Birla documents. The NGO claimed that the CBI had found them and a stash of unaccounted cash amounting to Rs. 25 crore during a search of the group premises in October 2013.

“One of the payment entries was to the Gujarat CM,” Mr. Bhushan submitted.

“Who made this entry? Whose computer entry was this? Anybody makes any entry from anywhere in the world and that should be necessarily investigated?” Justice Mishra asked.

“Whenever there is anything suspicious against someone, it has to be probed,” Mr. Bhushan responded. “Yes, but it should be suspicious enough to arouse our conscience. And this does not arouse our conscience,” Justice Khehar said.

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