Jethmalani questions SC order, raises queries over judge

Injecting some drama into the case, he contended that former Gujarat Minister Amit  Shah 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.

Jethmalani said Gujarat Government at that time was not aware of the fact that Justice Chatterjee was under the lens of the CBI.

While there was exchange of words, a Bench comprising Justices Aftab Alam and R M Lodha, pacified them but 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.

He 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 chargesheet 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.

The Bench rejected the plea of Jethmalani that he should be given opportunity to discuss issues with Subramanium, who is amicus curiae in the matter.

He said being an amicus, the SG is not only the friend of the court but also the friend of all the members of the Bar, who are appearing as officers of the court in the case.
During the hearing, Jethamalani was also provoked by senior advoacte Dushyant Dave, who was appearing for Sohrabuddin's brother and accused him of giving political colour to the hearing in the apex court.

"It is a cheap politics. Don't insult the petitioner who is the brother of Soharabuddin and brother-in-law of Kauser Bi," Dave said when Jethmalani was submitting that CBI has mishandled the case with the intention of demolishing the then Home Minister Amit Shah and Chief Minister Narendra Modi.

The allegations and counter-allegations between the two advocates reached a point when Dave flung the file near Jethmalani prompting the Bench to say that it was not willing to hear the case in such an atmosphere.

"We will stop hearing you, We cannot be a mute spectator. Hearing cannot take place in this atmosphere. It is something not acceptable. We cannot work in this atmosphere," the Bench said.

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