The Supreme Court on Tuesday absolved Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of any wrongdoing in sitting over Janata Party chief Subramanian Swamy’s plea for sanction to prosecute the then telecom minister A Raja, saying he did not get proper advice from PMO and law ministry officials.
“We have no doubt that if respondent No.1 (PM) had been apprised of the true factual and legal position regarding the representation made by the appellant (Swamy), he would have surely taken appropriate decision and would not have allowed the matter to linger on for a period of more than one year,” a bench of justice GS Singhvi and justice AK Ganguly said.
“By the very nature of the office held by him, respondent No. 1 (PM) is not expected to personally look into the minute details of each and every case placed before him and has to depend on his advisers and other officers. Unfortunately, those who were expected to give proper advice to respondent No. 1 and place full facts and legal position before him failed to do so,” it said.
The bench wondered how a PMO official instead of apprising the PM of the facts of the case sent Swamy’s representation to the department of telecommunications headed by none other than Raja against whom the Janata Party chief had levelled serious allegations. The concerned officer in the PMO then referred the matter to the ministry of law and justice for advice, it noted.
The court said it was not possible to appreciate that even though Swamy repeatedly wrote to the PM highlighting the seriousness of the matter and had supplied documents and judgments which could form the basis for grant of sanction to prosecute Raja, the PMO officials kept the matter pending and took shelter behind the fact that the CBI was probing it.
The bench said, “The officers in the PMO and the ministry of law and justice were duty-bound to apprise respondent No.1 (PM) about seriousness of allegations made by the appellant.”
“We welcome the fact that both the learned judges have completely vindicated the Prime Minister whilst appreciating the onerous duties of his office,” said the PMO in a statement.