New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed its displeasure at union law minister Salman Khurshid’s comments about the judicial system keeping businessmen in jail, an indirect reference to the high-profile criminal conspiracy case on 2G (second-generation) telecom spectrum allocation in which politicians and corporate executives have been incarcerated for more than six months without bail.
“Some newspaper has reported a statement from a minister as if we are interested in keeping these persons in jail. It is disturbing for us,” said the bench comprising justices G.S. Singhvi and H.L. Dattu, while hearing the bail applications of some of the accused in the 2G spectrum case. “We are not interested in anything. Is this the stand of the government? Let me tell you the proceedings in the matter will not be affected.”
Additional solicitor general Harin P. Raval, appearing for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in the case, said he would ask the “person concerned” and “seek a clarification” on the statement after the bench said this was causing confusion.
Monday’s edition of the Indian Express quoted Khurshid as saying: “What will affect the functioning of the government is if other institutions do not understand the kind of political economy we are faced with today: what is needed to encourage growth and investment? If you lock up top businessmen, will investment come? What optimal structure should be put in place for investment to come?”
The Supreme Court bench took exception to the minister’s remarks as they could influence the on-going criminal proceedings in the special 2G court as well as the bail hearings in the apex court itself.
Interestingly, Khurshid had remarked light-heartedly at a recent gathering of top Indian and foreign lawyers that “the Indian Supreme Court doesn’t let me sleep.”
Khurshid told the Press Trust of India his comments had nothing to do with the 2G case, but, when pressed, said there was a view that many of those detained in the case had been deprived of their liberty.