Srinagar, 07 April (CNI) : The Supreme Court has refused to hear a petition filed by 14 political parties, alleging misuse of central investigative agencies by the Centre.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachur and Justice JB Pardiwala said that it cannot issue general directions without actual context.
The petition filed by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi on behalf of the opposition parties, it has been claimed that there has been an extraordinary and substantial increase in the number of cases registered by the Enforcement Directorate(ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation CBI against opposition leaders.
However, the Chief Justice was not satisfied with Mr. Singhvi’s arguments and said that the petition did not take into account the rights and interests of other citizens who may be affected by corruption or wrongdoing.
According to News agency-Current News of India(CNI) , the Supreme Court today refused to entertain a plea by 14 Congress-led political parties, alleging arbitrary use of central probe agencies against opposition leaders, it said it would be “dangerous” to formulate guidelines without the facts of a criminal case.
A bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala expressed disinterest in hearing the plea, saying that the courts are always there to redress the grievances of political leaders as they do for ordinary citizens.
“Political leaders do not enjoy an immunity higher than the common citizens…once we accept that political leaders are absolutely on same footing as common citizens with no higher immunity, then how can we say there can be no arrests unless there is a three pronged test which is satisfied,” the bench said.
Sensing its disinclination, senior advocate A M Sighvi, appearing for the political parties, sought permission to withdraw the petition which was granted.
“Learned counsel seeks permission to withdraw the plea at this stage. The petition is accordingly dismissed as withdrawn,” the bench ordered.
“You please come back to us when you have an individual criminal case or group of cases,” the bench said, adding “laying down general guidelines without having relation to facts of a case will be dangerous”.
At the outset, Singhvi referred to certain statistics while trying to drive home the point that opposition leaders have been targeted by federal investigative agencies from 2014 to 2022 and that there has been a 600 per cent increase in CBI and ED cases.
“Between 2014 and 2022, 121 political leaders have been probed by the Enforcement Directorate out of whom 95 per cent are from opposition parties,” he claimed.
The Narendra Modi government first came to power in May 2014.The CBI has probed 124 political leaders and out of these, 108 are from opposition political parties, Singhvi claimed.
The bench said even the media, under Article 19(1)(a) (freedom of speech and expression) of the Constitution, does not have higher powers and “the political persons are also citizens and as a citizen they are subject to similar rules”.
The senior lawyer said he was not seeking any particular relief in a particular case and the parties, which represent 42 per cent of the electorate in the country, wanted prospective guidelines of pre and post-arrest procedures to be adopted by the central probe agencies.
Earlier, the joint plea was mentioned for urgent hearing on March 24 by Singhvi.
“I am asking for the guidelines for the future. This is a remarkable convergence of 14 parties against the misuse of the agencies, both CBI and ED,” Singhvi had said, and claimed that 95 per cent cases of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) are against the leaders of opposition parties.
The senior lawyer had referred to the rise in the number of cases filed by the CBI and ED after the Modi-led NDA government came to power in 2014.
“Second statistics, pre-2014 and post-2014: there is a humongous jump in cases. The rate of conviction is four to five per cent. We are asking for pre-arrest guidelines and post-arrest bail guidelines,” Singhvi had said.
The plea alleged there has been an alarming rise in the use of coercive criminal processes against opposition political leaders and other citizens exercising their fundamental right to dissent.
“Investigating agencies such as CBI and ED are being increasingly deployed in a selective and targeted manner with a view to completely crush political dissent and upend the fundamental premises of a representative democracy,” a statement issued on behalf of a petitioner alleged.
The plea, filed through lawyer Shadan Farasat, cited some statistics and asserted they demonstrated a “shocking and unconstitutional state of affairs”.
Besides the Congress, the parties to the petition included the DMK, RJD, BRS, Trinamool Congress, AAP, NCP, Shiv Sena (UBT), JMM, JD(U), CPI(M), CPI, Samajwadi Party and the J&K National Conference, the statement said.(CNI)