Top jurists do not agree with law minister Salman Khurshid’s comments that investments into the country would suffer in case top businessmen continue to be behind the bars in cases of corruption.
Former chief justices of India —JS Verma and VN Khare— and former Delhi HC chief justice AP Shah are of the view that nobody is above the law.
Asked about Khurshid’s statement that if top businessmen are locked up, investment would suffer, Justice Verma replied: “The law is supreme and it is above everyone in this country. Anything done in violation of the law cannot be condoned.”
Justice Verma said those allegedly involved in causing loss to the public exchequer and in tax evasions deserve to be prosecuted. “Are we being told to accept that those allegedly involved in economic offences should not be prosecuted?,”he asked.
Former CJI Justice Khare said the successive governments have been giving “erroneous arguments” on the political economy. “Such a statement has not come for the first time from the government. I recall in 2002, the then attorney general had told the Supreme Court that all sorts of investments into the country should be welcomed, no matter how it comes.”
“The governments should either reconcile with the fact that the rule of law overrides everything or they should amend the law in accordance with what they want,” he said.
Justice Shah was of the view that everybody should respect the law. “Everything has to be done in accordance with the law, but I’m worried about the application of bail jurisprudence. Trials should and have to go on, but the bail conditions should not be so stringent,” he said.
The Congress evaded a direct reply on Khurshid’s statement. Party spokesperson Manish Tewari said the minister’s statement should be seen in a holistic perspective. “There is no denying the fact that India has benefited from 20 years of liberalisation… So I don’t think that the minister held a brief for any aberrations which have been committed,” Tewari said.