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SC spanner in Cong-SP joyride

SC spanner in Cong-SP joyride

Author: ET Bureau
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: January 28, 2009
URL: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/SC_spanner_in_Cong-SP_joyride/rssarticleshow/4039603.cms

The Centre's brazen attempts to wind up the DA case against ally Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family members hit the judicial roadblock on Tuesday when the Supreme Court disallowed the CBI to take a fresh line in the case.

Throwing political propriety to the winds, the Centre not only shifted its stand on the case against the SP leader, but changed the CBI counsel for appeasing the ally. As part of the quid pro quo politics that is being perfected by the UPA government, the Centre on Tuesday replaced additional solicitor-general Gopal Subramaniam as the counsel for CBI with another ASG, Mohan Parasaran. The change - done at the behest of friendly quarters - did not go unnoticed. A bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph asked CBI to furnish an undertaking that it would not change its counsel in the future.

The Centre's shifting stand on the case was evident when it attempted to push the case back into CBI's lap. Solicitor-general G E Vahanvati said that his earlier opinion for the closure of the case has become 'irrelevant' in the face of the court's directive in the case. "Earlier I had given an opinion on the CBI status report. That opinion is no longer relevant. Meanwhile, we have received detailed representation from Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav and his kin and these have been sent to the CBI. The CBI may look into it and take a fresh decision," he said. We will not give any direction to the CBI at present without hearing all parties," the court said and posted the case for hearing on February 10.

At the last hearing, the Court had expressed a lack of confidence in the functioning of the CBI, which sought the withdrawal of its earlier plea to prosecute the SP leader and his family members irrespective of the political master's view. The court, which was furious over the blatant attempt to calibrate investigations to suit interests of those in power had said it will not allow CBI to become an instrument of the Centre.

"We do not want CBI to become an instrument of the Centre," the same bench had said. The CBI had earlier claimed before the SC that it was an independent agency wanting to prosecute Mr Yadav and his kin in accordance with law and without any governmental interference. "Why do you want to withdraw the earlier petition," the bench had asked.

The latest stance of the Centre in the case is aimed at making the CBI the authority to decide on the merits of the case. The CBI is known to be mindful of the sensitivities of those in power as well as their friends. Tuesday's development suggests that the government may not be able to dodge the SC's watchful eyes in cases against Mulayam and his family members.

Meanwhile, during the hearing, in a lighter vein Justice Kabir said he felt nervous about the case given the controversy surrounding it and the personalities involved. "The array of counsel on both sides and the crowd that throng the court to listen to the proceedings makes me nervous," said Justice Kabir.

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