Court grills CBI on flip-flop in Mulayam case

Jan 7th, 2009 | By editor | Category: In News, Law and Order, Nation

Why the reversal of stand against submitting report to Centre?
 
 J. Venkatesan
 
New Delhi: Even as the Central Bureau of Investigation said it would soon finalise its report after examining material against the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh, the Supreme Court on Tuesday grilled it, asking why it wanted to withdraw the application seeking modification of the March 1, 2007 court direction to submit to the Centre a preliminary enquiry (PE) report in a wealth case.
Justice Kabir, heading a two-judge Bench, told Additional Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the agency:
“We don’t want the CBI to be an instrument of the Central government. The CBI must maintain its independence in all its actions.”
Justice Cyriac Joseph wanted to know from the CBI whether it filed the October 2007 application due to a misconception of law.
Acting on a public interest litigation petition from Vishwanath Chaturvedi, the court on March 1, 2007 directed the CBI to conduct a PE into the allegations that Mr. Mulayam Singh, his sons Akhilesh Yadav, MP, and Prateek Yadav; and Dimple Yadav, wife of Mr. Akhilesh Yadav, amassed assets disproportionate to the known sources of their income, and submit a report to the Centre.
In October 2007, the CBI sought modification of the direction, saying it was not bound to submit a report to the Centre as it was an independent body.
In its affidavit, the CBI said it was willing to place a status report before the court, if necessary. It sought a direction to proceed in the matter in accordance with the law without any further reference to the Union or State governments.
However, in December last, the CBI sought withdrawal of this application. On Tuesday, when the Additional Solicitor-General made the same demand, Mr. Justice Kabir told him,
“It is not as simple as that. First tell us why you want to withdraw the application. You [CBI] had to take an independent decision. We would have allowed your October 2007 application as it is the correct stand. We had committed a mistake in our order by directing the CBI to submit a report to the Centre and not to this court.”
“CBI will comply with order”
 The Additional Solicitor-General said: “By seeking to withdraw the earlier application, we are not in any way trying to dilute our independence.” He said Mr. Mulayam Singh and others made representations to the Centre, submitting voluminous documents relating to income tax returns and these were forwarded to the CBI for examination.
“There are no overtones or undertones and we will take a final view and comply with the court directions and submit the report to the Centre.”
Another Additional Solicitor-General, Amarendra Saran, appearing for the Centre, made it clear that it would abide by any direction issued by the court.
Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for Mr. Mulayam Singh, initially said nothing survived in the matter after the Centre wanted to withdraw the October 2007 application.
When Mr. Justice Kabir pointed out that withdrawing it was not as easy as it was made out, Mr. Salve said he was opposing the application.
Senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi, appearing for the petitioner, opposed the CBI’s fresh application. Arguments will continue on January 27.

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