Renowned Supreme Court lawyer, Prashant Bhushan, on Friday termed the apex court’s observation in Sahara/Birla bribery case a ‘minor setback’ but added that Supreme Court should have followed the same principles it had laid down in Jain Hawala case.
He told Janta Ka reporter, “Supreme Court in Jain Hawala case had said that if a raids at the premises of business houses throw up documents showing payments of bribery to public servants, then a probe must happen because there’s a prima facie evidence of payment here.
He said, “Supreme Court today (on Friday) questioned the authenticity of documents. Now, the authenticity will only be proven if a probe is commissioned. In Birla’s case, the Income Tax authorities questioned its officials based on the documents they had seized. Birla officials conceded that they had indeed made Hawala payments in crores to various big names on the instructions of the company’s group president Shubhendu Amitabh.”
Bhushan said that he will bring in new evidence on 14 December and also finesse the existing evidence adding that he was convinced that the apex court will see a merit in his argument that a probe was necessary in the case.
Common Cause is seeking probe into the documents recovered by Income Tax departmentduring its raids at the premises of Sahara and Birla groups in 2013 and 2014.
The documents seized from Sahara offices had several entries stating payments of Rs 40.1 crore to ‘CM Gujarat.’ Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister during the time of the IT raids.
The NGO alleged that both Sahara and Birla paid kickbacks to politicians including chief ministers, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh and Sheila Dikshit.
The SC said that it was not impressed by the documents placed by the petitioner.
Justice JS Khehar observed that the apex court, in SEBI matter in the past, had found Sahara documents to be unreliable.
Justice Khehar, however, told petitioner, “You are making a serious allegation and if you bring some authentic document we will hear you. We can’t initiate any proceedings because you name some big persons.”
Justice Khehar added, “Any corrupt person can make entry in name of Prime Minister in his document but it cant be treated as credible evidence to order probe.”
The Attorney General, Mukul Rohatgi, told the Supreme Court that allegations were scandalous, malafide and in nature of kite flying.