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SC no to centre for Mulayam bailout

SC no to centre for Mulayam bailout

Author: Abraham Thomas
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: January 28, 2009.
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/152774/SC-no-to-Centre-on-Mulayam-bailout.html

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said a firm 'no' to the Centre's attempt to bail out Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav in the disproportionate assets case. The apex court declined permission to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to proceed on Mulayam's representation for a review of his case based on fresh documents provided by him.

The much talked about case is being contested by some of the country's best known legal brains like Harish Salve, LN Rao, KTS Tulsi and GE Vahanvati.

Amid reports that the Centre dropped CBI counsel and additional solicitor general Gopal Subramanium from the case under pressure of SP leaders, the CBI tried to impress upon to the court about the urgency to consider the representations filed by Mulayam and his kin.

Subramamium was replaced by a battery of high-profile counsel - Solicitor General GE Vahanvati and Additional Solicitor Generals (ASG) Amarendra Saran and Mohan Parasaran. This did not skip the court's attention. On being told that Subramanium had been replaced, the court asked the latter to give an assurance there would be no further change till the next date.

Senior advocates Harish Salve and LN Rao represented Mulayam and his kin, while petitioner Vishwanath Chaturvedi, who raised objection over the CBI's U-turn was represented by KTS Tulsi.

When Vahanvati asked the court to modify its March 1, 2007 order and hear Mulayam's representation on priority basis, the Bench of Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph said, "If we are to modify the order, we will decide it at the end of hearing the case."

Before posting the matter for hearing on February 10, the court also took a dig at the Centre's enthusiasm to desperately bring the matter to a close. On January 6, when the matter was last heard, the Bench had wanted to know the reason for the CBI to initially file an application on October 26, 2007 to nail Mulayam on sufficient evidence and later attempt a U-turn by seeking withdrawal of its earlier application.

On the previous occasion, ASG Gopal Subramanium who appeared for CBI assured the court that the request to withdraw should not be seen as "dilution" of investigation. He reiterated the stand that till the agency would consider the representations and voluminous documents submitted by Mulayam and his family, its earlier application to proceed with filing of cases may be withdrawn. The Centre was particularly bothered about the March 1, 2007 decision of the apex court directing CBI to investigate and present a report on the disproportionate assets of Mulayam and his kin to the Centre.

Amused by the change of stand by the investigating agency, the apex court Bench had said, "We will act because we do not want CBI to become an instrument of the Central Government." Asking the agency to suggest grounds for seeking withdrawal of its earlier application, the Bench called for the CBI manual to ascertain whether the procedure under the Manual prevented CBI from registering cases in a matter where prima facie evidence is available.

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