Chief Justice of India NV Ramana

“It’s a new trend that has started, the government has started slandering judges! It’s unfortunate,” India’s Chief Justice remarked on Friday. The remark came during consideration of two special leave petitions, including one filed by the State of Chattisgarh challenging the High Court order quashing the FIR registered against Aman Kumar Singh, a former IRS officer and principal secretary of the former…

“It’s a new trend that has started, the government has started slandering judges! It’s unfortunate,” India’s Chief Justice remarked on Friday.

The remark came during consideration of two special leave petitions, including one filed by the State of Chattisgarh challenging the High Court order quashing the FIR registered against Aman Kumar Singh, a former IRS officer and Principal Secretary to the former Chief Minister under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Lead Counsel Siddharth Dave, representing a claimant, argued that the reasoning for quashing the FIR is that the allegation is based on probability. He added that a complaint had been filed and that the motion in writ had been filed at the stage of the preliminary investigation.

“Whatever fights you might have is fine. But don’t try to slander the courts. I’m also looking in those courts, it’s a new trend,” CJI remarked.

Senior Solicitor Rakesh Dwivedi, representing Chattisgarh State, said they were not pressing the point at all.

“No, we watch every day. You’re a senior lawyer, you’ve seen this more than us. It’s a new trend, the government has started slandering judges, it’s unfortunate,” CJI added.

Lead attorney Dave then said they hadn’t slandered anyone in this case.

“This trend, no one can accept it for even a minute. Please see the reasoning, it’s not the trend or vindictiveness,” Mr Dave said.

Mr. Dave argued that the allegation relates to disproportionate assets. When an inquest is called for the defendant he will be asked to explain the assets, if he is able to do so the inquest will be terminated.

“Based on assumptions and your allegations, we cannot allow this type of victimization to continue,” the bench said.

“It wasn’t guesswork. Someone hoarded 2500 crores, we say,” Mr Dave said.

“The SLP is an exaggeration, 2500 crore!” said CJI.

“The kind of money people are hoarding is shocking.” Mr. Dave answered.

“Don’t generalize people like that. Tomorrow when the government changes, another government comes, they say lakhs, a thousand become lakhs,” the CJI remarked.

Senior Solicitor Rakesh Dwivedi informed the court that the Respondent had a property worth 11 lakhs when he joined the service, and now he has purchased 7 properties worth 2.76 crores.

The bench will continue to hear the case on April 18.

A bench consisting of CJI NV Ramana, Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli were considering a request for special leave filed by anti-corruption campaigner Uchit Sharma challenging the Chattisgarh High Court’s order to quash an FIR registered in under the Prevention of Corruption Act as a result of a state investigation conducted after the filing of a complaint by the present petitioner.

The court was also considering another special leave application filed by the state of Chattisgarh challenging the same order.

In the petition filed by Uchit sharma tby lawyer MP Vinod and lawyer Pranjal Kishore, he argued that his complaint against Singh and his family members, the private defendants, led to a preliminary state investigation which found that the private defendants held assets disproportionate to their income. Subsequently, an FIR under Sections 13(1)(b) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 read together with Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code have been registered. the this was annulled by the contested order.

The High Court ruled that the FIR is based on probabilities and “on the basis of the probability no person can be prosecuted”. She also argues that the state failed to produce documents “to support this statement of facts…by them.” Having found this, the High Court held that no offense had been made out.

The petition further argued that the High Court erred in conducting a ‘mini trial’ as part of the annulment proceedings. The same was frowned upon by the Supreme Court in Neeharika Infrastructure Private Limited v. Maharashtra state.

The contested order was made as part of the private defendant’s writ petition to the High Court challenging the State’s sanction to carry out an investigation under the PC Act against them. The High Court, by interim order, granted them protection from coercive measures.

It has been argued that under the Interim Order, the State of Chhattisgarh has also filed an application to set aside the Interim Order prohibiting any enforcement action. The state argued that taking advantage of the order, the accused failed to cooperate with the investigation.

Case Title: Uchit Sharma v State of Chattisgarh & Ors, State of Chattisgarh v Arun Kumar Singh & Ors

Click here to read/download the order

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