The Supreme Court on Friday declined to entertain, for now, a plea seeking an SIT probe into allegations of pay-offs to influential public functionaries, including then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, saying the material placed before it was "zero".
Telling petitioner NGO Common Cause that there has to be something prima facie to order an investigation, the bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice Arun Mishra told senior counsel Shanti Bhushan that the material being relied upon by him was "zero".
"This is zero. Nothing. It is an insinuation," the bench observed as it adjourned the hearing till December 14 after asking Bhushan to come back with "with better material".
As the bench asked Bhushan either to come back with better material or withdraw the petition, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani said he would return with conclusive material.
As court cold-shouldered the plea by Shanti Bhushan and Jethmalani seeking investigation into computer entries seized from the offices of two corporate entities, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi described the allegations as "scandalous and kite flying".
"There has be a prima facie case...We can't initiate action merely because you have named some big people. We have never shied away from initiating action but there has to be some material, you know it," observed Justice Khehar as Bhushan made a strong plea for direction to investigate the names mentioned in the material seized from corporate offices.
Saying that it cannot order probe on the basis of "material like this", the court said: "Give us some better material. It is just a computer entry ..."
Common Cause has sought investigation by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) into alleged pay-offs by two corporate entities to several politicians and public functionaries purportedly for advancing their business interests.
Seeking the court's intervention, the NGO has described the matter as "extremely serious" where the "actionable evidence gathered in the raids on... (two corporate entities)... concerning corruption and bribing of important public functionaries was given a quiet burial by the Income Tax Department and the CBI".
In the case of one corporate entity, the Central Bureau of Investigation conducted searches on October 15, 2013, and in the case of the second corporate entity, the Income Tax Department carried out raids on November 22, 2014.
Seeking investigation by an SIT into the alleged role of present Central Vigilance Commissioner in the entire matter, the NGO urged the apex court to direct the CBI, the Central Board of Direct Taxes, and the Central Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) to produce the records and the seized material recovered in the raids on the two corporate entities.