The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to accept diary entries as evidence, and dismissed a petition seeking a special investigation team to look into pay-off charges against prime minister Narendra Modi and others. A bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy said loose sheets and computer and diary notes had no ‘evidentiary value’ as they could be fabricated.
Common Cause, an NGO, had sought an SIT inquiry into material purportedly gathered from the Sahara and Birla group of companies in 2013-14.”In the absence of relevant materials, it would not be safe to direct investigation against various political functionaries and officers…. These petitions are merit-less and dismissed,” the bench said.
The court said it would go by cogent, reliable and admissible material. Otherwise, any unscrupulous person may make some entries on paper, and use it for ulterior goals by abusing the process of law. This can hamper the functioning of a democracy, the court said.”We are constrained to observe that the courts have to guard against ordering investigation against important constitutional functionaries and officers in the absence of cogent materials and documents,” the bench remarked.The order comes as a relief to Modi as the documents allegedly seized, during raids by CBI and IT sleuths on Sahara and Birla group of companies, were used by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to demand a probe.The opposition claims the entries show several payments made to the then chief ministers of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, and officers of the ministry of environment and forests, among others.The case was transferred by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar to the bench after Bhushan had in December objected to then CJI-designate hearing the matter in view of his file for elevation being pending with the government.Petitioner Prashant Bhushan, who represented the NGO Common Cause, said he was disappointed.”This judgement is very unfortunate and a setback to the whole campaign against corruption and for probity in public life,” he said in a statement.