Chhattisgarh fights ED over choice of SC bench to hear PDS case, Legal News, ET LegalWorld – Legal Firms


NEW DELHI: In an unprecedented tug-of-war for listing of a case before an “appropriate bench”, the Chhattisgarh government appears locked in an intense legal battle in the Supreme Court with the ED that is seeking transfer of the trial in the alleged multi-crore Nagrik Apurti Nigam (PDS) scam accusing the state administration of protecting influential former IAS officers allegedly involved in the case.

The ED plea seeks transfer of the trial outside the state, alleging many witnesses turned hostile after grant of anticipatory bail by HC to accused Anil Tuteja and Alok Shukla, who are close to the state government, reports Dhananjay Mahapatra.

No one should try to choose a bench, says SG

The ED alleged Chhattisgarh CM, members of the SIT and a law officer of the state had allegedly weakened the case against two senior bureaucrats involved in embezzlement of crores of rupees in purchase and transportation of foodgrains.

Last week, the case w0as listed before a bench headed by Justice MR Shah. Advocates Kapil Sibal and Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Chhattisgarh government and other parties, said it was improper for a two-judge bench headed by Justice Shah to hear the case as the matter had been heard on three occasions by a three-judge bench of then CJI U U Lalit, Ajay Rastogi and S R Bhat.

Sibal said that the hearing should be adjourned to allow him to mention this before CJI D Y Chandrachud to list it before an appropriate bench. Solicitor general Tushar Mehta, for ED, had objected saying no one should attempt to choose or object to a bench.

On Friday, Sibal and Rohatgi mentioned the matter before CJI Chandrachud and said two judges of the earlier bench are still available even though Justice Lalit has retired. It is a tradition of this court to refer the part-heard matters before judges who had heard the matter before.

The CJI told Sibal he had already directed its listing before a 3-judge bench of Justices Rastogi. Mehta said he has no grievance as to which bench or judge heard the case.

He said another trend that is gaining ground, in which an influential political party or social outfit, when they suffer an adverse order, immediately swing into action to get together some NGOs and condemn the SC crying aloud that justice is denied. “It’s more disturbing when the counsel appearing for them tell seminars they’ve lost faith in the institution,” he said.


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