Over seven years after recalling its order to former Petroleum Minister Capt Satish Sharma to pay a fine of Rs 50 lakh as fine in the petrol pump allotment scam, the Supreme Court now finds 'considerable force' in arguments against its decision.
The issue was raised in a petition filed by one Vikram Dhillon who claimed a compensation of Rs 10.5 lakh for being 'wrongfully' denied admission in a Medical College in Haryana.
Though the court dismissed his petition but during the course of arguments, a Bench of Chief Justice YK Sabharwal (since retired), Justice CK Thakker and Justice RV Raveendran had an occasion to reflect on Capt Satish Sharma’s case.
The Bench said "though we find considerable force in the submission of the learned counsel (for the petitioner), in the facts and circumstances of the present case, we are not inclined to enter into a 'larger question' in view of the fact that it is not necessary to do so."
However, it did not specifically say whether the recall order was right or wrong.
Petitioner’s counsel had argued that in a review petition the court was not right in setting aside the direction for payment of Rs 50 lakh personally from Capt Sharma, particularly when it had recorded a finding earlier that the allotments were illegal, improper and unconstitutional.
He had also submitted that the apex court applied a wrong test in a review by adopting an analogy of a criminal trial and referring to provisions of the Indian Penal Code.
Further, it did not apply the correct test by observing that in case of criminal breach of trust, entrustment of property was an essential ingredient, which was not proved, he had contended.
On a PIL by Common Cause, a Bench headed by Justice Kuldeep Singh (since retired) had in 1996 cancelled the arbitrary allotments of petrol pumps/LPG distributorships made by Sharma in favour of his friends/relatives and imposed a penalty of Rs 50 lakh on him.
However, on a review petition filed after Justice Singh’s retirement, the order was recalled in 1999.
The court dismissed Dhillon’s petition but granted him liberty to him to take recourse to appropriate legal proceeding.
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