A petition, seeking contempt of court proceedings against senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley for his article in relation to fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan and three others, was on Friday withdrawn after High Court expressed its reservations.
The High Court bench of Justices Jayant Patel and ZK Saiyed observed that, "In democracy everybody has a right to know and right to express their opinions. Courts are not swayed by it."
However, when the petitioner's lawyer Mukul Sinha insisted that they would like to pursue the matter, Justice Patel said, "Propriety demands that we should not initiate any proceedings as another bench of this court is seized with the matter (Ishrat Jahan encounter case)."
The court in its order granted permission to NGO Jan Sangarsh Manch, which had filed the petition, to withdraw it with the liberty to file it again so it can be heard by the appropriate bench.
Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, who is himself a noted lawyer, had on his blog on June 3 written an article titled 'Should CBI uncover the IB', in relation to the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case.
The article featured on the leader's blog after CBI summoned senior IB (Intelligence Bureau) officer Rajendra Kumar.
In his article, Jaitley had said Congress was behind CBI move to question IB in the Ishrat Jahan case and said such "misuse" of government institutions for political purposes will destroy them.
The petition said: "It is humbly submitted that unless strict action under contempt of court act is not initiated against the respondent (Jaitley) he would completely thwart the free and fair investigation that has been entrusted by this court in the fake encounter case of Ishrat Jahan, since he (Jaitley) holds extremely high position in the society as a leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha."
The CBI, on the instruction of the Gujarat High Court, had taken over the probe of the alleged fake encounter in which 19-year-old Ishrat, Javed Sheikh alias Pranesh Pillai, Amjad Ali Rana and Zeeshan Johar were killed on the outskirts of the city on June 15, 2004, allegedly by a crime branch team led by DIG DG Vanzara.
Citing some paragraphs of the article which appeared on Jaitley's blog, the petitioner said, "It is most pertinent to point out that in this article, he has suppressed the fact that the investigation of the case was handed over to CBI under the orders of this court." "In order to mislead the readers to believe that it was Congress leadership sitting in New Delhi, who have their own political motive, had given this case's investigation to CBI with ulterior motives," it alleged.
Arguing for the petitioner, advocate Mukul Sinha said, "Before the law it does not matter a person is ordinary or not, but if a person is holding a position of authority he can impair the efficacy of investigation and can effect the due course of it."
During the hearing, however, the court also made its opinion clear and said, "Prima facie tenor of petition is that by the comments of the respondent (Jaitley) what has impacted is the credibility of the investigation officer or of CBI, not of the court."
A division bench of Justices Jayant Patel and Abhilasha Kumari is hearing the Ishrat Jahan case.