In a breather for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a plea for probing alleged payoffs by the Birla-Sahara group when he was the Gujarat chief minister. The case was related to some evidence gathered against the two corporate groups in Income Tax raids regarding “bribing politicians”, across party lines, which also included names like that of former Delhi chief minister and Congress leader Sheila Dikshit, apart from Modi.
The apex court, dismissing senior advocate Prashant Bhushan's plea seeking an SIT probe into the matter, observed that mere diaries and loose sheets cannot be taken as admissible evidence in a court of law against constitutional functionaries, according to CNN-News18.
"If we were to order investigation on the basis of material with no evidentiary value, it would be difficult for constitutional functionaries to function, which would not be safe for the democracy," the court observed.
"Given the shape in which these documents have been collected and filed, we are of the opinion that it would not be safe and proper to order investigation", the court said in its order while weighing the evidence placed before it in the context of earlier judgments of the apex court, including that of the Constitution Bench.
The Supreme Court has shown a clear disinclination in admitting Bhushan's plea, citing weak evidence provided by him in the case.
Earlier too, a Constitution bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India had observed that the evidence provided by Bhushan in the case was inadequate and had given the petitioner time to provide more evidence. Bhushan had then produced some internal reports of the Income Tax Department on the alleged graft case, however, that too could not stand the top court's scrutiny.
Bhushan, meanwhile, has slammed the Supreme Court's verdict stating that it will go down as "one of the worst judgement" in the history, adding that it is a black day.
"It’s a very unfortunate and abject judgement and it will go down as one of the worst judgement in history... It is a black day at the top court today" NDTV 24x7 quoted Bhushan as saying.
Moreover, speaking to Times Now, Bhushan said, "The verdict shows that when it comes to dealing with the high and mighty, sometimes even the Supreme Court wilts under pressure."
Bhushan also asserted that especially in the Birla case, there was a humongous volume of incriminating documents, which included several recorded entries of payments and hundreds of emails with cross references to politicians. He wondered how could the Supreme Court dismiss them on face value without even ordering a free and fair probe.
"Saboot to investigation me hi niklenge. isme aap ye kaanon aur samvidhan ka makhaul udane ke barabar hai (Evidence will only be found once an investigation is launched into an issue. This (the judgement) is a mockery of the Constitution)," Bhushan said.
Meanwhile, the BJP camp has taken a sigh of relief with Bhushan's PIL now standing scrapped, as it has also been picked up by its opponents to corner the prime minister. Both Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal has been using it to attack Modi.
Speaking to Times Now, BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao said that this case absolutely lacked any merit and its part of a conspiracy launched by Congress back in 2013 to incriminate Modi to contain his rising popularity amid people.
Rao also slammed Bhushan for criticising the Supreme Court judgement stating that those who have made PILs a tool of profiteering have no moral ground to slam the apex court's judgement.
Meanwhile, Congress has said that they "respect the Supreme Court judgement," adding that all they sought was a free and fair probe in the matter, reported NDTV 24x7.