Judgments are not to be played with, Supreme Court tells ED

The petition of the agency, appealing the Delhi high court’s decision that gave pre-arrest bail to Shivakumar referred to him as former “Union finance minister” and “home minister”. Shivakumar is a member of the Karnataka legislative assembly.
Congress party leader from Karnataka state D.K. Shivakumar waves as he leaves the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital for a court in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019.(AP file photo)
Congress party leader from Karnataka state D.K. Shivakumar waves as he leaves the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital for a court in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019.(AP file photo)
Updated on Nov 16, 2019 12:51 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent

The Enforcement Directorate came in for some sharp criticism from Supreme Court judge Rohinton Fali Nariman in a case involving Karnataka Congress leader DK Shivakumar for evoking a section of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act that a bench headed by the judge himself had struck down in 2017 (in a different case) and for copy pasting its (the agency’s) own petition filed in a case against former union minister P Chidambaram.

The petition of the agency, appealing the Delhi high court’s decision that gave pre-arrest bail to Shivakumar referred to him as former “Union finance minister” and “home minister”. Shivakumar is a member of the Karnataka legislative assembly.

The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.

Justice Nariman told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of ED that its officers cannot play around with the top court’s judgements, and asked him to read his dissenting view in the Sabarimala case, delivered on Thursday. That judgement, authored by Justice Nariman and Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud, emphasized the importance of all government functionaries and officers following judgements delivered by the top court.

The judge took strong exception to ED invoking section 45(1) as a ground to cancel Shivakumar’s bail. The provision imposes stringent conditions for release on bail of an accused even for offences which are not related to PMLA.

“For your edification and edification of government …. You must read the dissenting verdict. Tell the officials that our judgments are not to be played with,” Justice Nariman told Mehta .

Mehta responded that all the judgements passed by the court were read, taken seriously and followed.

On Thursday, in their dissenting judgement, the two judges said the 2018 order by a five-judge bench allowing entry of all women into Sabarimala would have to be implemented and asked authorities to take action against those opposing the judgment. The two judges said organised acts of resistance to thwart the implementation of the judgement must be put down firmly. In a majority ruling on Thursday, the court agreed to a review of the decision among other issues pertaining to religious practices, but did not stay the 2018 order. The dissenting judgement dismissed the review.

As the appeal came up for hearing, Shivakumar’s counsel, senior advocate Abhishesk Manu Singhvi pointed out that ED had done a “copy paste” job. And had also resurrected the stringent section 45 (1) of PMLA, which was declared unconstitutional in 2017 by the top court. Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, also representing Shivakumar, supported Singhvi’s contention.

Mehta persisted with his argument that the court must give ED an opportunity to justify its opposition to the bail and pleaded that Shivakumar was facing a probe for money laundering to the tune of 142 crore.

A visibly annoyed Justice Nariman told Mehta: “This is not the way to deal with the citizens of this country.”

The bench went ahead to dismiss the ED’s appeal, affirming the HC decision to grant Shivakumar bail.

The bench also issued notice to ED on Shivakumar’s appeal challenging the refusal of the Delhi High Court to quash the various proceedings launched against him by ED under PMLA.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2021