New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Saturday stayed Gauhati High Court order which termed the Central Bureau of Investigation unconstitutional. The Supreme Court issued notice to the petitioner on whose plea the high court passed the judgement and posted the matter for hearing on December 6.
The apex court observed that the judgement has to be stayed as accused in two sensational cases have sought stay of the trial. The apex court refused the preliminary objection that Department of Personnel and Training is not authorised to file appeal in the matter.
The matter was heard by Chief Justice of India P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjana Desai. They said, "We will consider and go through the appeal filed by the Centre." The apex court said, "Gauhati High Court order that decreed that CBI is illegal is invalid."
Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati said that High Court reasoning that DSPE Act not applicable to the CBI is a convoluted logic. "Several people tried to take to take advantage of this judgment. So it was important for us to take it up as early as possible. Nine thousand case will be affected, 6000 people are working with the CBI. We got the judgment yesterday, we worked on it overnight and filed the SLP Saturday morning," he said.
Constitutional Expert Subash C Kashyap said, "This was the only alternative. It should be welcomed."
The petitioner said, "CBI is an unlawful body. It is an illegitimate child of the Central government. Passed by just an administrative order, it cannot sustain in the eyes of law. The Supreme Court has issued notice to also stay the order but matter will be examined and we hope and trust that as per constitution of India, the CBI will no longer be on the existence as it is in the present form."
The government had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the Gauhati High Court ruling which called the CBI unconstitutional. The Centre has sought a stay on the order and has urged for an urgent hearing of its petition.
The Centre is said to have told the Supreme Court that the Gauhati High Court erred in holding that the constitution of CBI was illegal. It also added that the verdict would have widespread ramifications as it would directly have an impact on 9,000 trials and 1,000 investigations which are being conducted by the CBI.
The move by the Centre comes after Minister of State for PMO V Narayanaswamy met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal to discuss the issue on Friday. Narayanswamy along with the Minister of Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) had also met CBI Director Ranjit Sinha and law officials on Friday.
Prominent leaders who are under the CBI radar for their role in Coalgate, 2G scam and 1984 anti-Sikh riots have appealed to the respective trial courts to put a stop on their cases citing the High Court order passed on Thursday.
Hoping to cash in on the ruling, former Telecom minister A Raja and other accused in the 2G scam on Friday pushed for a stay on the proceedings of the case in a Delhi court. "Before we proceed today I want to mention that the nation today woke up with banner headlines in newspapers that the CBI is not police."
Meanwhile, the government and the CBI have maintained that the order will not have any repercussions on the existing CBI cases. The Centre had said that it will appeal in the Supreme Court against the order. "The judgement is patently wrong. It is bound to be set aside. We are certainly going to challenge it, " Additional Solicitor General PP Malhotra had said.
He contended that the government resolution on the formation of the CBI has been held valid by the apex court time and again in a number of judgements.
The Gauhati High Court judgement by the division bench comprising Justices IA Ansari and Indira Shah on Thursday, came on a writ petition filed by Navendra Kumar challenging an order by a single judge of the High Court in 2007 on the resolution through which CBI was set up.
(With additional information from PTI)