Saturday, 21 January 2017

SC : Loose paper-sheets "irrelevant, inadmissible" evidence; Rejects investigation plea in Sahara/Birla case

SC dismisses petition filed by Shanti Bhushan & Prashant Bhushan, seeking constitution of Special Investigation Team, directing investigation of the allegedly incriminating material seized in CBI/tax department raids conducted on Birla & Sahara group of companies; Mr. Bhushan argued that during the raids, e-mails and excel sheets were found that showed payment of cash to several important 'public' figures; Apex Court cites ratio in V.C. Shukla/Jain Hawala diaries case, wherein the court held that entires in loose papers/sheets are irrelevant and not admissible under Sec. 34 of Evidence Act and only where entries are in books of accounts/regularly kept, those are admissible; Further cites V.C. Shukla ratio to drive home the point that entires in books of account alone shall not constitute sufficient evidence to implicate a person since the same is only "corroborative" evidence; SC observes that the judiciary ought to be cautious while ordering investigation against any important constitutional functionary/officers in the absence of "prima facie reliable/legally cognizable material" which are not supported by 'other circumstances'; Holds that "..... In case we do so, the investigation can be ordered as against any person whosoever high in integrity on the basis of irrelevant or inadmissible entry falsely made, by any unscrupulous person or business house that too not kept in regular books of accounts but on random papers at any given point of time."; As for Sahara raids, SC refers to Settlement Commission order dated November 11, 2016 wherein the Commission recorded a finding that transactions noted in the documents were not genuine and did not attach any evidentiary value to the pen drive, hard disk, computer loose papers, computer printouts; SC concludes " ... it would not be legally justified, safe, just and proper to direct investigation, keeping in view principles laid down in the cases of Bhajan Lal and V.C. Shukla.":SC 

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