Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Opp on “misuse” of ED, CBI: SC dismiss petition

CJI DY Chandrachud

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to consider a petition by 14 opposition parties that accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of abusing its power and using central investigating agencies to harass and intimidate its political rivals.

The petition, filed by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi on behalf of the opposition parties, claimed that there was a “drastic and exponential increase” in the number of cases registered by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against opposition leaders since 2014 when PM Modi came to power.

Singhvi cited statistics to show that the ED had registered 6 times more cases in the last seven years than in the previous decade, but had a conviction rate of only 23 per cent. He also alleged that 95 per cent of the ED and CBI cases were against opposition leaders from across the country and that this was a clear indication of political vendetta and bias.

However, Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud expressed doubts about the validity and feasibility of the petition. He asked Mr Singhvi whether he was seeking immunity for opposition parties from investigation and prosecution, and whether they had any special rights as citizens.

Singhvi clarified that he was not asking for any blanket protection or exemption for opposition leaders, but only for a fair and impartial application of the law. He said that the government was misusing its agencies to weaken and demoralise the opposition and that this was detrimental to democracy and the rule of law.

He also argued that the government was violating the “triple test” laid down by the Supreme Court for arresting accused persons, which requires reasonable grounds, necessity and proportionality. He said that many opposition leaders were being arrested without any evidence or justification, and that this was affecting their ability to perform their duties as elected representatives.

The Chief Justice, however, was not convinced by Singhvi’s arguments and said that the petition was essentially a plea for politicians. The petition did not take into account the rights and interests of other citizens who might be affected by corruption or criminality, Justice Chandrachud said.

He said that the Supreme Court could not lay down general guidelines or principles for just politicians, and that it would be more appropriate for individual cases to be brought before the court. He also suggested that Singhvi could raise his concerns in parliament.

Singhvi then decided to withdraw his petition, saying that he would come back to the court when there were more specific cases or instances of misuse of power by the government.

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