New Delhi: Seeking to give a new twist in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter killing case, noted lawyer Ram Jethmalani on Thursday demanded recall of the Supreme Court order directing CBI probe because Justice Tarun Chatterjee himself was under the agency's scanner but was rebuffed by the court.
The court witnessed high drama when the eminent lawyer made the demand saying the order of the CBI probe was passed by a bench headed by Justice Chatterjee, since retired, as he was investigated by the agency in the Uttar Pradesh PF scam.
Jethmalani, appearing for former Gujarat Minister Amit Shah who has been arrested in connection with case, contended that he was dragged into it by the CBI as "the entire conspiracy was hatched at the highest level to destroy him and the Chief Minister (Narendra Modi)".
"On January 12, Justice Tarun Chatterjee (since retired), who was the part of the Bench, was himself being investigated by the CBI. When CBI was investigating the judge, it was highly improper to pass such an order," Jethmalani, appearing for Shah, a close aide of Chief Minister Narendra Modi, submitted before the apex court.
However, his submission evoked strong objections from the Bench and Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, who said such remarks cannot be made against the former judge and he (SG) has to protect him.
He said if such was the case, Gujarat Government should have pointed this out when the order for CBI probe was delivered and that Jethmalani should desist from making accusation against the judge who has retired.
A Bench comprising Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha objected to Jethmalani's remarks and expressed its displeasure that the name of a former apex court judge has been dragged in such a manner. "Don't talk about members of the Bench. It is unfair. Your statement hurts us. It will hurt you and it will hurt your great reputation," the Bench said.
Jethamalani shot back "I have no reputation to lose. If it is so, I don't care," he told the Bench which granted three months extension to CBI to complete the probe in the case by rejecting Shah's plea that he should be given an opportunity to respond to the agency's plea seeking six more months to carry out its investigation. The Bench told Jethmalani that it was not inclined at this stage to allow his plea for recall of the January 12 order and granted the agency three months extension to complete its investigation.
The lawyer made the statement on Justice Chatterjee in response to the Bench's question that what were the legal remedies available to him for recalling or setting aside the January 12 direction for CBI probe in the case.
"How will you get the order quashed or set aside. We don't know. How will you do that. I am unable to conceive that how that order will be quashed. If you have some idea you can do that (can argue)," Justice Alam said.
The Bench did not accept the contention of Jethmalani that CBI should not be granted any more extension to probe the case as the charge sheet has been filed only after the completion of the investigation.
"Today, we proceed on the basis of our order passed by us on January 12 in which CBI was directed to investigate the killing of Soharabuddin, his wife Kauser Bi and also the alleged possibility of larger conspiracy. "Since the investigation is not complete, we give three months to the CBI to complete it and file the status report in a sealed cover," the Bench said. PTI