In fresh trouble for Sahara group chief Subrata Roy, the Supreme Court today asked why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him for allegedly interfering in 2G scam probe.
Issuing notice to him on a contempt petition by an Enforcement Directorate's (ED) Investigating Officer in the the multi-crore scam, the apex court held that the plea was maintainable.
Roy is already facing the heat for not refunding investors money as directed by the apex court in a separate case and has been barred from leaving the country.
A bench of justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan also issued notices to two journalists working with Sahara Group- Upendra Rai and Subodh Jain- who had allegedly threatened and blackmailed the officer.
The court said that allegation of the officer Rajeshwar Singh is of "very serious nature" and rejected the contention of Roy and his employees that the contempt plea is not maintainable as it was not filed without the consent of the Attorney General.
It said that jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under the Constitution is independent of the Contempt of Courts Act and its powers cannot be "denuded, restricted or limited" by the Act.
"We are, therefore, of the view that the petition filed under the above mentioned provisions is perfectly maintainable and this Court has got a constitutional obligation to examine the truth of the allegations as to whether the respondents are attempting to derail the investigation which is being monitored by this Court.
"We, therefore, issue notice to the respondents to show cause why proceedings be not initiated against them for interfering with the court monitored criminal investigation," it said in its judgement on maintainability.
"Any interference, by anybody, to scuttle a court monitored investigation would amount to interfering with the administration of justice. Courts, if they are to serve the cause of justice, must have the power to secure obedience to its orders to prevent interference with the proceedings and to protect the reputation of the legal system, its components and its personnel, who on its behest carry on a court monitored investigation.
"The court is duty bound to protect the dignity and authority of this Court, at any cost, or else, the entire administration of justice will crumble and law and order would be a casualty," the bench said.
The apex court said an officer is duty bound to report to the court if he faces any threat or pressure from any quarters while conducting probe in a case monitored by it.
"People have trust and confidence when court monitors a criminal investigation and the court has to live up to that trust and confidence and any interference from any quarters to scuttle that investigation, has to be sternly dealt with," the bench said.
On May 6, 2011, the apex court had said prima facie it was of the view that an attempt was made to interfere with the investigation conducted by Singh.
The bench had also restrained Sahara India news network and its sister concerns from publishing and broadcasting any story or programme relating to Singh in response to 25 questions sent by Subodh Jain to the ED official.
Jain had sent 25 questions to Singh seeking his reply to them which were personal in nature.
The court had observed that this was an attempt to blackmail Singh as it was done after Sahara India chief was served with summons by the ED to appear before it in connection with the investigation into the 2G scam.
The summons were issued under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.
The apex court had earlier, in a different case, restrained Roy from selling any of the properties of the Sahara Group.
The court had said its order for handing over title deeds of group's properties worth Rs 20,000 crore to SEBI was not followed in "letter and spirit".
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