“We are now once bitten twice shy. We are not going to give liberty to anyone”, was how the Supreme Court had reacted while denying permission to Essar promoter Ravi Ruia to go abroad. Though the apex court did not name the person who abused the liberty, an advocate today circulated copies of an order of August 28 in which a bench headed by Justice J S Khehar was annoyed that a rich woman, accused in a criminal case, did not abide by her undertaking to return from the United Kingdom.
The advocate, on condition of anonymity, said he was appearing for one of the respondents in that case.
Besides Justice Khehar, the bench also had Justice U U Lalit, whose order was not complied with by UP resident Ritika Awasty, against whom direction had been passed for revocation of her passport.
While hearing Ruia’s case, Justice Khehar along with Justice Arun Mishra were perhaps referring to the Awasty case.
“We have allowed a person to go abroad but he never came back. He was no less big than you in monetary terms. We don’t want to take chances now. We are now once bitten twice shy. We are not going to give liberty to anyone,” the bench had yesterday told Ruia’s counsel.
It was referring to the case of Ritika, who fled to the United Kingdom after getting permission on the pretext of taking care of her husband there.
The apex court had in January this year allowed the woman to travel to UK and the relief was again extended in April till May 31 on the ground that she was looking after her husband who was in urgent need of medical care.
Ritika, however, has not returned to India in compliance of her undertaking, the bench in its August order.
“In the peculiar circumstances noticed herein above, we are satisfied that the petitioner (Ritika) is in breach of the directions of this Court, as also of the undertaking given by her to this Court. We are accordingly satisfied in recalling the order dated December 11, 2015 whereby the arrest of the petitioner was ordered to be stayed.
“In order to ensure that the petitioner does not flee from justice, we consider it just and appropriate, to direct the concerned Passport Authority, to revoke the passport issued to the petitioner forthwith. On revocation of the petitioner’s passport, the Indian High Commissioner at London, shall initiate action for the return of the petitioner to India, so as to face the judicial process which is pending consideration before this Court,” it said in its order passed on August 28.
The bench had said “we are also prima facie satisfied that the petitioner has committed contempt of this Court by breaching the directions issued by the Court, as also violating the undertaking given to this Court. We are, therefore, issue notice to the petitioner to show cause why contempt proceeding be not initiated against her.”
The court noted that while seeking the relief, the woman had given an impression that her liability was to the extent of Rs 86 lakh but it has now emerged that the amount payable by her may be manifolds more than this amount.
It said just one of the claimants has quantified the figure as Rs 1.46 crore and the FIR against her also suggests a sum of Rs 1.76 crore.
While posting the matter on November 25 for further consideration, the bench also said that in case the woman returned India before the next date of hearing, it shall be open to her to move an appropriate application for the listing and hearing of the case.