Tuesday, March 12, 2013

SC dismisses TV channel's plea against Sahara,slaps Rs 1L cost

 The Supreme Court today dismissed a plea by a private TV channel seeking probe into contents of a CD allegedly having conversation between Sahara Group Chief Subrata Roy and an erstwhile scribe in his company by imposing a cost of Rs one lakh.

The apex court termed the plea of Mohd Arif, Managing Director of Channel One, as "ex-facie frivolous and vexatious" which deserves dismissal with exemplary cost.

The channel had filed an intervention application in the ongoing hearing of the case in which the apex court had in May 2011 initiated suo motu contempt proceedings against Roy for allegedly interfering with the probe in the 2G spectrum case.

"The applicant is not at all connected with the main case of 2G licences or allotment of spectrum or contempt petition filed on behalf of Rajeshwar Singh, Deputy Director of Enforcement Directorate.

"The CD on which reliance has been shown has not been verified or authenticated from the laboratory about the conversation," a bench comprising justices G S Singhvi and K S Radhakrishnan said and added that "this court cannot enlarge the scope of the contempt matter.

"Application is dismissed. The hearing on the application has resulted in the loss of time of the court," the bench said while imposing a cost of Rs one lakh on the channel which will be deposited with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee (SCLSC) and in case of failure, the amount would be recovered from arrears of land revenue of the channel.

Meanwhile, senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Roy raised preliminary objections on maintainability of suo motu contempt proceeding against him saying the apex court rule was not correctly followed in issuing notice and the petition was filed without the approval or knowledge of the Attorney General or the Solicitor General which is mandatory.

Identical argument was put forward by senior advocate Rajiv Dhavan, who was appearing for Upendra Rai, a scribe associated with Sahara India News Network and facing the contempt proceedings.
Along with Roy and Sahara, another journalist Subodh Jain, who was then associated with the company, is also facing contempt proceedings. 

The apex court had issued contempt notices to them on May 6, 2011 saying there was a prima facie case against them. 

The bench had taken serious note of the fact that after summons were issued to the CMD of Sahara group under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, "crude methods" were adopted to terrorise, intimidate and blackmail Enforcement Directorate's Assistant Director Rajeshwar Singh, who is the investigating officer in the 2G spectrum case. 

The bench had also banned Sahara India News Network and its sister concerns from publishing and broadcasting any story or programme relating to Singh. 

The probe against Roy was launched by ED in connection with the investment made by the Sahara in the Chennai-based telecom company S-Tel which had come under the scanner of CBI on the issue of national security. 

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