Apex court rejects Jagan’s plea against CBI inquiry

July 22nd, 2011 - 9:12 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 22 (IANS) In a setback to Lok sabha member Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, the apex court Friday rejected his petitions seeking a stay on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged amassing of huge wealth by him.

An apex court bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma said that it will not interfere with the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s July 12 interim order, directing the CBI to conduct a preliminary inquiry.

The brief order said, “We are not inclined to interfere with the interim order of the high court. These petitions are devoid of any merit. In case high court wants to proceed against the petitioner, the principle of natural justice has to be complied with.”

Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi, appearing for the Kadapa MP, said the high court had no powers to order an inquiry against him without being prima facie satisfied of the allegations made against him.

“Court is not a post office. The court must record its satisfaction after reading the complaint before ordering preliminary inquiry by an investigating agency,” Rohtagi told the apex court.

As Rohtagi said this, the court said, “Once an order is made by the court, can’t we pre-suppose that the court has applied its mind” before passing direction to CBI to conduct preliminary inquiry?

The higher judiciary cannot be divested of their powers to direct the CBI inquiry where they feel as such, the court said. “Are courts denuded from their powers to even call for preliminary inquiry from an investigating agency?” Justice Bhandari asked the senior counsel.

Addressing the contentions by Rohtagi that it was a case of political battles being fought in the high court, Justice Bhandari said that if, after the receipt of the CBI report, the high court is satisfied that no case is made against Reddy, it will drop the proceedings.

As Rohtagi said that ordering of preliminary inquiry has tarnished the reputation of his client, Justice Bhandari said that “the high court has not said anything against you”, and added that “if you are exonerated of all the allegations then you would be free of its burden for all time to come”.

The high court ordered a preliminary CBI inquiry after its registry received a letter written by senior Congress leader and the State Handlooms and Textiles Minister P. Shankar Rao, alleging that Jagan had amassed huge wealth by misusing power when his father the late Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy was the chief minister between 2004 and 2009.

Rohtagi told the apex court that the petition against Jaganmohan Reddy was at the instance of a political rival. It is a case of political battle being fought in the courts and a matter of political vendetta by the ruling party.

As court disagreed that the entire proceedings infringed upon Jaganmohan’s right to personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution, Rohtagi said “personal liberty was not the only dimension of the Article 21 and there were other facets of it also.”

Rohtagi referred to an earlier judgment of the apex court which had said that the high courts should not encourage the practice of people rushing to it with the pleas for which alternate remedies were available.

The apex court in its quoted judgment said that the high court should “ordinarily refuse to interfere in such matters and relegate the petitioner to his alternate remedy”.

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