Apex court spares Pawar trial for perjury, but wants fresh probe

March 17th, 2010 - 10:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday set aside a Calcutta High Court ruling ordering trial of Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar for lying before it when he was the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The high court had held that Pawar did not say the truth while justifying Jagmohan Dalmiya’s ouster from the board in December 2006.

Setting aside the high court’s November 12 ruling, a bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrihsnan, Justice Deepak Verma and Justice B.S. Chauhan also asked the high court to conduct a fresh enquiry to ascertain if a trial was needed.

The bench asked the court to conduct the probe after hearing Pawar and five other BCCI officials, including the board’s current president Shashank Manohar and former secretary Niranjan Shah, against whom the high court had ordered trial on charges of perjury or lying before the court.

The other BCCI officials who got a reprieve included the board’s secretary N. Srinivasan, junior cricket committee chairman Chirayu Amin and its Chief Administrative Officer Ratnakar Shetty.

The apex court granted relief to Pawar and his five former colleagues from the BCCI on six separate lawsuits challenging the high court’s Nov 12 ruling. The court had earlier halted their trial on Dec 5.

The high court had ordered Pawar’s trial along with his five former BCCI colleagues on a plea by Dalmiya, who was expelled from the board on December 16, 2006, on charges of financial irregularities.

Dalmiya was subsequently forced to resign from the post of president of the Cricket Association of Bengal.

Dalmiya had questioned in the Calcutta High Court the legality of the rule on the basis of which he was ousted from the cricket panel.

The BCCI, through an affidavit, had told the high court that it expelled Dalmiya under a new rule authorising the panel to take punitive measures against its erring members.

Upholding Dalmiya’s objection, the high court termed his expulsion illegal and held that BCCI had filed forged documents and false affidavit to justify Dalmiya’s ouster. Dalmiya then sought prosecution of Pawar and five other BCCI officials on charges of perjury, which the court granted on Nov 12.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Goolam E. Vahanvati and senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi appeared for Pawar and argued before the bench that the high court gave a unilateral order to try him and others on charges of perjury.

Contending that the high court did not even hear Pawar and others before ordering their trial, Rohatgi said the high court’s ruling violated the principle of natural justice.

Rohatgi said that before ordering his Pawar’s trial for perjury under section 340 of the Criminal Procedure Code, the high court should have conducted a preliminary enquiry and heard Pawar and others to ascertain if perjury was indeed committed by them.

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