BJP leader Subramanian Swamy today strongly opposed a petition filed by journalist Upendra Rai, arrested in a graft case, seeking to restrain an Enforcement Directorate (ED) officer from conducting probe against him. The top court said it would hear the petition filed by Rai on August 16 as the special public prosecutor, Tushar Mehta, was not available.
A bench of Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said it would hear all aspects, including the maintainability of Rai’s petition which has been questioned by Swamy and others. At the outset, Senior Advocate Raju Ramachandaran, appearing for Rai, said this is altogether a different petition and no particular allegations have been made against anyone.
Swamy opposed Rai’s petition and questioned its maintainability, saying that the jurisdiction of the court is used for some other purposes. He said that the Aircel-Maxis case was brought before the court through his petition and Rai in his plea had made some “scurrilous remarks” against ED officer Rajeshwar Singh, who is probing the case.
“This is nothing but an attempt to delay the completion of probe in Aircel-Maxis deal case by targeting the officer,” he said. Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, appearing for the Centre informed the court that Tushar Mehta has been appointed as special public prosecutor in the case and he will be arguing in the matter.
The bench asked Bannerjee that what is the stand of the government on Rai’s petition. “Only special public prosecutor can inform the government stand on the matter but he is not available today. Kindly adjourn the matter by a day and he (Mehta) will be available for next hearing,” Banerjee said.
The bench then said it would take up the matter for hearing on all aspects including maintainability of plea of Rai on August 16.
On June 27, the apex court had said that no officer should be under a “cloud” and a blanket clean chit cannot be given to anybody.
It had told the government that it was free to look into the “serious” allegations against Rajeshwar Singh, who is probing the “highly sensitive” 2G spectrum case and the Aircel-Maxis deal. The court had observed that the sensitive matter involved national security and the allegations against Singh were required to be looked into and the government should take a call whether he would have any role to play in the further probe.
It had modified its interim order granting Singh protection against an inquiry and said it was “troubled” with the Centre’s response as documents placed before it in a sealed cover contained “startling” facts. “We direct that the government is free to look into the materials against respondent number 3 (Rajeshwar Singh) and the same can be looked into,” the bench had ordered.
The apex court had on March 12 set a deadline of six months for the CBI and the ED to complete the investigation into the alleged irregularities in FIPB approval given in the Aircel-Maxis deal case, in which former Finance Minister P Chidambaram and his son Karti Chidambaram have been questioned by probe agencies.