Prashant Bhushan: There's already more evidence in Sahara & Birla papers than in Jain hawala dairies

Sadiq Naqvi | First published: 27 November 2016, 21:13 IST
Prashant Bhushan: There's already more evidence in Sahara & Birla papers than in Jain hawala dairies
Malik/Catch News

The Supreme Court has refused to order an investigation into the documents recovered during raids at the offices of Aditya Birla Group and Sahara saying they are not authentic or credible enough.

Some of the documents purportedly mention bribes paid by these companies to a number of politicians, including Narendra Modi, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Sheila Dikshit, among others .

The bench of Justices JS Khehar and Arun Mishra told the petitioner, the NGO Common Cause, that ordering an investigation merely on the basis of an unverified entry in a document could have far-reaching implications.

Also Read: 'Modi took bribes from Birla & Sahara': Kejriwal tears into demonetisation

"If we accept what you say, then somebody can make an entry that I sent PM this much of money... See how far-reaching this could be. We are not shying away from taking action against anybody but you must have something even prima facie to show wrongdoing. We cannot initiate proceedings just because you name a big man. There has to be something," the court said, according to a media report. The petitioners have asked for more time to submit additional evidence.

In this conversation with Catch, lawyer and activist Prashant Bhushan, who is associated with Common Cause, insists they have additional documentary evidence which they will submit at the next hearing. He, however, maintains that the evidence already submitted to the court should have been enough for it to order a probe. Excerpts from the conversation.

The Supreme Court has asked you to submit for more evidence before they could order a probe into the Sahara and Birla papers. How do you see this order?

I don't think they properly understood the nature of the evidence we have already submitted. Because they are saying that anybody can write these things, how are you sure who wrote them, etc? They have seen some of the other documents we have filed. It was clear from the appraisal report of the Birla case that the persons who have written those notes about the payments were examined by the Income Tax department and they admitted that they had made those payments. That they were receiving large amounts from Hawala dealers in cash and making those cash payments to various public servants on the instructions of group president Shubhendu Amitabh.

Shubhendu has also admitted during his interrogation that the page where he mentions "25 crore paid to Gujarat CM, 12 paid, rest?" was indeed from his computer.

He, however, says that Gujarat CM refers to Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals. When he was asked what 'C' and 'M' stood for, he couldn't answer and said it was his personal note. There was considerable evidence at least in the Birla case which the I-T officials had themselves gathered and which showed that the persons who made the payments admitted to making them. Now it was just a matter of further investigation into telephone call records etc.

Some of the pages we had filed were original pages and they were not very legible, so the court asked us to file more legible copies. We will file typed copies of the same so that it is clearly legible.

But was any payment actually made to Gujarat Alkalies and Chemicals as Shubhendu Amitabh claimed? Is there evidence of it?

It was never investigated. That is why an investigation is required now.

What about the Sahara papers?