A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli acceded to the request of the Karnataka government and the Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) chief Seemanth Kumar Singh that the observations and directions issued beyond the subject matter of the petition was unnecessary and proceeded to stay them.
The bench said, “Rather than considering the bail application on its merits, the judge has apparently focused on other elements which may not be relevant and are, in our prima facie view, beyond the scope of inquiry in respect of proceedings under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code.”
Justice Sandesh had created a stir by revealing in open court that he was threatened with transfer for tearing into purported irregular functioning of the state Anti-corruption Bureau.
We are of the opinion that, in the interim, proceedings before the Karnataka HC, not linked to the pleadings of the accused’s original petition for bail, be stayed. We request the HC to continue hearing and dispose of the bail application of the said accused, expeditiously, without reference to the pendency of the present special leave petitions before this court,” the CJI-led bench said.
Justice Sandesh had flagged the purported lack of enthusiasm on the ACB’s part to investigate corruption cases and said that persons with impeccable credentials should be appointed to head the bureau.
He had also called for the service record of the ACB chief and read out contents of the confidential report in open court, which was made a serious issue by solicitor general Tushar Mehta and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi. The SG and Rohatgi had said these issues had no link with proceedings related to the bail plea. Mehta conceded an HC judge had the inherent power to take judicial notice of any issue unconnected to the subject matter of the petition before him.
“However, the procedure and judicial discipline demand that he flags the issue to the Chief Justice of the HC, who alone can decide which would be the appropriate bench to scrutinise the issue,” he had said.