The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgment on a petition filed by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad and his wife Rabri Devi, challenging their prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 for amassing assets beyond their known sources of income.
A bench comprising Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice SH Kapadia reserved the verdict after the arguments concluded.
The apex court also reserved its judgment on a similar petition filed by former chief ministers of Punjab and Kerala Parkash Singh Badal and M Karunakaran respectively.
They have challenged the criminal proceedings initiated against them for acquiring assets disproportionate to their known sources of income by misusing their official position as public servants.
Earlier, senior counsel PP Rao, appearing for Prasad and his wife, pleaded before the court that since the Special Judge did not have the jurisdiction to try his clients, both were entitled to be discharged.
Senior counsel KK Venugopal, appearing for Badal, blamed Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for slapping false cases against the SAD chief to settle personal scores.
He also contended that his client had acquired assets worth Rs 3500 crore abroad, could not be substantiated despite the misuse of the official machinery by the present state government.
Among others, who challenged their prosecution were—Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Punjab ministers Ratan Singh Ajnala, Tota Singh and Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of Badal.
During the hearing of the case, the court made it clear that 'bribe-taking' could never be part of an official duty and hence the protection of sanction under section 197 of the CrPC was not available in such cases as it was aimed at protecting the public servant against malicious prosecution.
Karunakaran is facing trial for his alleged involvement in the palm oil import scandal in which the state exchequer suffered a loss of about Rs 2.7 crore.
Proceedings against all the petitioners pending in the trial court have already been stayed by the apex court.