SC trashes plea against Pranab, warns petitioner (Second Lead)

July 6th, 2012 - 7:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, July 6 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to the central government to conduct an inquiry against presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee for canvassing even before resigning as the union finance minister.

An apex court bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice H.L. Gokhale dismissed the PIL by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma and very nearly imposed a cost of Rs.50,000 on him.

Describing the petition as “fantastic and unacceptable”, Justice Alam observed: “This (court) is not a theatre for your farcical play.”

“This time we spare you,” the court said, letting off Sharma with a warning after he pleaded against the imposition of the cost.

The petitioner sought a direction to the government to “conduct enquiry against presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, for securing favour/support of various MLAs/MPs for his presidential election while still holding the office of the finance minister”.

Sharma contended that Mukherjee was not supposed to start canvassing for support from the time he was named a candidate but he did so while he was still the finance minister.

The court said that if a person was a candidate, then he was supposed to approach MPs and legislators for seeking their support.

The court described as “most fantastic interpretation of the provision (Section 7) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988″, when the petitioner advocate said that corruption, either a small favour or a large, had the same effect under the law.

Sharma contended that the “misuse of public office for a self-benefit by a public servant is a criminal misconduct and corruption which is liable to be punished under the Prevention of Corruption Act”.

He alleged that Mukherjee used the finance ministry facilities to canvass support for his candidature for the July 19 presidential election.

Trashing the petition, the court imposed a cost of Rs.50,000 on him - which it subsequently withdrew with a warning that a repeat of such a farcical PIL in future would invite heavy cost.

As Sharma pleaded before the court that the cost would destroy him, Justice Alam told him that he was destroying the system.

“You are destroying the system. This time we spare you,” the court said, withdrawing the cost of Rs.50,000.

Right in the beginning, the court asked Sharma if he was seriously pursuing his petition and cautioned him of the consequences.

“Mr. Sharma, are you seriously pursuing this application? We are cautioning you,” the court said.

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