New Delhi: A Haryana-based black-marketeer sentenced to a one-year jail term kept filing petitions in various courts for over 12 years to delay his surrender. The Supreme Court, while dismissing the man`s petition, voiced anguish at criminals repeatedly approaching courts by moving "misconceived and untenable" petitions to frustrate the course of justice, and even succeeding on some occasions.
"One thing is crystal clear that criminals do not hesitate in approaching courts even by abusing the process of the court, and sometimes succeed also," said the apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice J.S. Khehar in a recent order.
The judges said this while dismissing a petition by Haryana-based black-marketeer Sunil Kumar who was sentenced to a one-year jail term in 1999 but for over 12 years kept filing petitions in various courts to delay his surrender, to serve the sentence.
Justice Chauhan said: "The petitioner feels that merely because he is a black-marketeer and succeeded in exploiting the helplessness of the poor people of the society and is capable of engaging lawyers, he has a right to use, abuse and misuse the process of the court and can approach any court any time without any hesitation and without observing any required procedure prescribed by law."
He noted that once it was commented that anti-social elements, including foreign exchange rules violators and bride burners, had found a safe haven in the Supreme Court.
The court was, apparently, referring to a former law minister`s remarks which invited contempt proceedings.
The judges dismissed Sunil Kumar`s plea and imposed a cost of Rs.20,000, holding that the relief sought by the petitioner could not be granted. The petition was "misconceived and untenable".
"The petitioner being the black-marketeer presumed that he had a right to dictate terms to the court and get the desired results, thus, approached this court again and sought the relief prayed before the high court," the court said.
Noting that Sunil Kumar had lost his case in four courts earlier, the judges said the question was whether in this situation there should be any restraint on the petitioner or he should be permitted to abuse the judicial process as he liked.
A first information report was lodged against Sunil Kumar and another person Sep 15, 2009, under Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act, as they were found in possession of 1,370 litres of blue kerosene (subsidised supply for the poor) which they were unauthorisedly selling.
The trial court pronounced them guilty Oct 27, 1999, and sentenced them Nov 2, 1999, to undergo one year`s imprisonment, along with a fine. The Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed the appeal by Sunil Kumar July 30, 2010.
Another appeal seeking modification of the July 30, 2010, order was rejected Sep 19, 2011.
Sunil Kumar moved the apex court Oct 13, 2011, challenging the July 30, 2010, verdict of the high court, which was dismissed Jan 27, 2012. Subsequent to this, the apex court was moved again Feb 29, challenging the Sep 19, 2011, verdict of the high court.
"No explanation has been furnished as to why the present petition could not be filed during the pendency of the earlier petition or both the orders could not be challenged simultaneously as the order impugned herein had been passed much prior to the filing of the first petition on Oct 13, 2011, and the petitioner surrendered to serve out the sentence only on Jan 1, 2012," the order said.