Apex court stalls Sharad Pawar’s trial for perjury

December 5th, 2008 - 7:50 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 5 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday halted the impending trial of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar for lying to a court when he was president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to justify Jagmohan Dalmiya’s ouster from the board in December 2006.A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam also halted the impending trial of five other present and former BCCI officials for lying to the Calcutta High Court to justify Dalmiya’s ouster from the BCCI.

The five BCCI officials, who escaped the impending trial by virtue of the apex court order, include the board president Sashank Manohar and former secretary Niranjan Shah.

The other BCCI officials included secretary N. Srinivasan, junior cricket committee chairman Chirayu Amin and 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 Calcutta High Court’s Nov 12 ruling, ordering their prosecution on charges of perjury or lying to the court in a sworn affidavit.

The bench suspended the high court’s ruling and issued notices, among others, to Jagmohan Dalmia seeking his reply as to why the high court’s ruling should not be scrapped.

Appearing for Pawar, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi contended that the high court gave a unilateral order to try his client and others on charges of perjury.

Contending that the high court had not even heard his client and others before ordering their trial on charges of perjury, Rohtagi said the high court’s ruling violated the principle of natural justice.

Rohtagi argued that before ordering his client’s trial for perjury, the high court should have conducted a preliminary enquiry and heard Pawar and others to ascertain if they had indeed committed perjury.

Defending Pawar as minister, Solicitor General Goolam E. Vahanvati questioned the legality of the Calcutta High Court order and said that it was passed without adhering to the due procedure.

The BCCI expelled Dalmiya on Dec 16, 2006, on charges of financial irregularities. He was subsequently forced to resign as the president for the Cricket Association of Bengal too.

Dalmiya then challenged his ouster in the Calcutta High Court, questioning the legality of the rule on the basis of which he was ousted from the cricket organisation.

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

To justify the legality of the rule, the BCCI told the court in its affidavit that as per the requisite provisions to frame a new rule, it was duly registered with the Tamil Nadu Registrar of Societies.

Dalmiya, however, contended before the high court that the rule had not been registered in time. He said the BCCI placed forged documents before the high court to show that it got exemption to surpass the time limit within which the rule should have been registered.

He contended that the BCCI wrongly claimed to have received permission from the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration agency to register the new rule at a later date.

Pointing out that an amendment must be registered within three months, Dalmiya told the court that condonation of delay was filed six years after the amendment was made in September 2000.

Upholding Dalmiya’s contention, the high court termed his expulsion illegal and held that BCCI had filed forged documents and false affidavit to justify Dalmiya’s ouster.

At this, Dalmiya sought prosecution of Pawar and five other BCCI officials on charges of perjury, which the court granted Nov 12.

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