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Holding that courts should be constantly on guard about ordering investigation against high constitutional functionaries lest there is an abuse of law and personal liberty, the Supreme Court dismissed a plea for an apex court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into alleged massive pay-offs made by Birla and Sahara companies to influential politicians including Prime Minister Narendra Modi while he was Chief Minister of Gujarat.
Agreeing with the Centre’s argument that “nobody is safe” if an investigation is ordered on the basis of uncorroborated material, a Bench of SC made reference of the infamous Jain hawala scandal of the 1990s, which accused high-profile national leaders like L.K. Advani of receiving bribes.
Rationale by SC
The Bench held it was improbable to order the registration of an FIR against Mr. Modi, other national leaders and senior bureaucrats by merely banking on “some diary entries and random loose computer sheets. The anomaly witnessed in the Jain hawala case should not take place.
About jain Hawala Scandal
The Hawala scandal or hawala scam was an Indian political scandal involving payments allegedly sent by politicians (black money) through four hawala brokers, the Jain brothers. It was a US$18 million bribery scandal that implicated some of the country's leading politicians.
In 1991, an arrest linked to militants in Kashmir led to a raid on hawala brokers, revealing evidence of large-scale payments to national politicians. Those accused included L. K. Advani, V. C. Shukla, P. Shiv Shankar, Sharad Yadav, Balram Jakhar, and Madan Lal Khurana. The prosecution that followed was partly prompted by a public interest petition (Vineet Narain case), and yet the court cases of the Hawala scandal eventually all collapsed without convictions.
Many were acquitted in 1997 and 1998, partly because the hawala records (including diaries) were judged in court to be inadequate as the main evidence. The Central Bureau of Investigation's role was criticised. In concluding the Vineet Narain case, the Supreme Court of India directed that the Central Vigilance Commission should be given a supervisory role over the CBI.