Pul’s widow withdraws from SC, says she will approach Vice-President
NEW DELHI FEBRUARY 23, 2017 18:19 IST
Seeking an “extraordinarily independent probe”, Dingwamsai Pul, widow of former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul who took his own life in August 2016, chose to withdraw from the Supreme Court her petition seeking registration of an FIR and CBI investigation into corruption allegations raised by her husband against politicians, “two seniormost Supreme Court judges” and even the President in his suicide note.
Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the widow, who was present in court, said they are now considering to approach Vice-President Hamid Ansari for action into the allegations. Kick-starting a no-holds-barred hearing on Thursday, Mr. Dave first asked a Bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit to refrain from hearing the matter. Mr. Dave said Justice Goel should recuse from hearing the case.
“Your Lordships should not hear this matter. If Your Lordships insist on hearing, we do not want to participate in this hearing,” Mr. Dave began as soon as the Bench sat for the hearing at 1.30 pm.
A two-page letter from Ms. Pul to Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar for permission to file an FIR and seeking CBI investigation into the contents of her husband’s 60-page suicide note was converted into a criminal writ petition and posted for judicial hearing before this Bench.
Mr. Dave went on to question why the matter was scheduled for judicial hearing when Ms. Pul had specifically sought the Chief Justice of India’s (CJI) administrative consent for initiating an FIR and further prosecution.
“Who in the Supreme Court Registry decided to put this matter up on the judicial side when the letter was written to the administrative side?” Mr. Dave asked the Bench.
Mr. Dave quoted the 1991 K. Veeraswami judgment of a Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court to submit that prior permission to register an FIR against serving judges of the high courts or the Supreme Court should be given by the CJI on the administrative side.
He continued that if the allegations were against the CJI, then the senior-most judge available must be roped in. “This matter should have gone before judge number three,” Mr. Dave submitted.
Justice J. Chelameswar is third in hierarchy in the Supreme Court.
“We will decide all your points,” Justice Goel said.
Mr. Dave said he had the highest regard for Justice Goel, but justice should appear to have been done, and this Bench, by hearing this case, should not trigger an unhealthy precedent.
“Your Lordship (Justice Goel) should recuse. Justice must appear to be done. The institution must be protected,” Mr. Dave submitted.
The lawyer gave a reason that Justice Goel and one of the judges named in the suicide note were once “colleagues”. The suicide note was annexed to the letter to the CJI.
Ms. Pul had written in her February 17, 2017 letter to the CJI that two of the judges named in her husband’s August 8, 2016 suicide note were part of the Constitution Bench which had in July last year quashed the Governor’s decisions which led to the President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh, compelling Pul to step down as Chief Minister. Pul took his life on August 9, 2016.
The Constitution Bench was led by Justice Khehar.
Mr. Dave said the case required an “extraordinarily independent probe” as the suicide note was found near the body of Pul and the closure report had said that one of the reasons for the suicide was the suicide note.
“We intend to write to the Honourable Vice-President. The letter should have gone to the President, but there are allegations against the President in the note. If you decide now, all our remedies will be barred,” Mr. Dave addressed the Bench.
“We may be right or wrong but this matter requires an extraordinary independent probe,” Mr. Dave emphasised.
Mr. Dave submitted that “we pray the allegations are wrong, but it is good if Your Lordships stay away from this”.
“We know what is good for us,” the Bench remarked at this point.
Mr. Dave submitted that a seven-judge Bench is hearing a suo motu contempt action against Calcutta High Court judge, Justice C.S. Karnan, but this matter was “far more serious”.
“Why has this matter come before Your Lordships? There are other courts available. The Registry has no business to send it to the judicial side when we had communicated to the administrative side,” Mr. Dave submitted.
“The roster is prepared by the Chief Justice… it has been placed before us,” Justice Goel remarked.
Justice Lalit asked Mr. Dave whether it was not communicated to them that this Bench would hear the matter.
“Was not an order passed?” Justice Lalit asked.
“We were intimated over the phone yesterday. I want to question that order,” Mr. Dave said.
The lawyer alleged a “former Supreme Court had met me” and there are things which could not be said in this matter in open court.
Orally observing that “what we think is justice, we will do”, the Bench said it would permit the withdrawal of the petition.
In its order, the Bench recorded that the “petition has been listed in pursuance of the order of the Chief Justice of India in view of the fact that there are allegations against a number of political persons and even the President. The matter was thus considered to be of public importance.”
“However without going into the issues, senior counsel Dushyant Dave seeks permission to withdraw the petition. Dismissed as withdrawn,” the Bench ordered.