February 20th, 2008 - 8:31 pm ICT by admin
New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday asked Zee news scribe Vijay Shekhar to apologise once again for tricking an Ahmedabad court in 2004 into issuing an arrest warrants against former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and former chief justice of India V.N. Khare. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan insisted that Shekhar apologise, while his counsel Arun Jaitley continued to justify his client’s action. The sting operation was aimed at exposing corruption in the lower judiciary, Jaitley stressed.
Jaitley contended before the bench, which also included Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice J.M. Panchal, that his client had come to the apex court to seek its permission before telecasting the sting operation that showed the lower court issuing warrants without applying much thought.
But the bench did not appear convinced and observed: “But it was a criminal act. You must apologise.”
However, it softened a bit when it said: “At least, you file the affidavit explaining the bona fide of your sting operation.”
This is the third time the apex court has asked the Zee News correspondent to seek an apology from the court. The bench had earlier July 26 and again Nov 22 last year sought an apology from Shekhar.
Meanwhile, the Bar Association of India too filed an intervention application before the court, seeking to have its say on the case, which its counsel said involved the freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary.
The bench adjourned the matter for further hearing, and directed the scribe to file his affidavit and seek an unqualified apology within six weeks.
In his earlier affidavit, Shekhar had not tendered his apology and had instead justified his sting operation.
To expose the rampant corruption in the judiciary, the scribe had in 2004 got bailable arrest warrants issued against Kalam and the then Chief Justice of India V.N. Khare and apex court Justice B.P Singh. He paid Rs.40,000 to three lawyers to get the arrest warrants issued by an Ahmedabad court.
But the bench felt the sting operation was “nothing less than a calculated bid to lower the image of the judiciary, and scandalised it in no uncertain terms”.
The apex court had also ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the matter. During the probe, the CBI found that the magistrate was not at fault in issuing the warrant as the scribe had not named the constitutional authority in a proper and transparent manner and had obfuscated their identity.
Additionally, the scribe had also got the warrants issued on false and fictitious complaints, and the magistrate had passed orders in a routine manner after his staffers verified the complaints.
“The whole perception of this gentleman (scribe) is absolutely wrong. It is not happening,” the chief justice had observed earlier.