Sahara-Birla: SC rejects plea to probe Modi

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In a relief to prime minister Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to order a probe into politically sensitive allegations that he — among other leaders — accepted kickbacks from Sahara and Birla groups as Gujarat’s chief minister.

The court dismissed a petition filed by a non-governmental organisationn (NGO) for a court-monitored special investigation team (SIT) probe into bribery allegations based on documents seized during income-tax (I-T) raids on the two business houses.

Democracy can’t survive and constitutional functi­onaries can’t function independently if probe is ordered on “flimsy” grounds, it said. The top court said the case based on “random materia­ls” like loose sheets, papers and e-mail printouts was “merit-less” having “no evidentiary” value. The decision also deals a blow to the opposition that had latched on to the case to target Modi ahead of the assembly elections in five states in February-March.

Congress VP Rahul Gan­d­hi and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal had repeatedly cit­ed the papers to attack Modi, sparking a controversy after the Centre’s demonetisation move late last year.

The court said the material were “inadmissible” to order FIRs and probe, more so against the high constitutional functionaries, whose names were mentioned in the documents. The bench said the I-T settlement commission had also prima facie found that material recovered from Sahara group was fabricated.

‘Sahara diaries’ – a colle­c­tion of papers and computer printouts found during 2014 raids on Sahara offices – reportedly carried na­mes of politicians and amounts paid to them as bribe. A new bench of justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy said “courts have to be on guard” while dealing with matters.

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