DA case: SC slams Kripashankar for bench hunting

Kripashankar Singh’s has challenged the Bombay HC direction for his prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

New Delhi: Refusing to grant him any immediate relief from action in a corruption case, Supreme Court on Friday ticked off senior Congress leader Kripashankar Singh for "bench hunting", saying such practice was unacceptable.

A bench of justices DK Jain and AR Dave took exception to the fact that the matter was being mentioned before it today, instead of Thursday when it was originally listed.

The apex court was irked as the matter was originally slated for mentioning on Thursday but was abruptly withdrawn and listed for fresh mentioning today.

"We are very sorry. We are very sorry this cannot happen. This is nothing but bench hunting," the bench told senior counsel Ranjit Kumar appearing for one of the family members.

The apex court told Kumar that "such practice" was unacceptable and hence directed that the matter be posted for hearing on the date notified.

The court while refusing to take up Kripashankar`s plea today in effect declined to grant any interim stay or quashing the Bombay High Court order as sought by him.

The Congress leader from Mumbai had moved the Supreme Court challenging the High Court direction for his prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act and attachment of his immovable properties in a case of alleged disproportionate

The apex court further said that senior counsel like Kumar have a duty towards the court as law officers to prevent such type of "bench hunting" efforts.

The High Court had also ordered a probe against Kripashankar`s family by the Mumbai Police, directing it to collect documentary evidence regarding all movable and immovable properties of the leader and his family, including his wife, son and daughter-in-law.

"We can easily conclude prima facie that a cognizable offence is disclosed against Kripashankar Singh. It need not detain us to conclude that such investigation is of common nature and need not even be specifically directed by the court but should have been undertaken by the investigating agencies like the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) themselves as public officers," the court had said.

Police attach properties of Kripashankar

12 properties of former city Congress chief Kripashankar Singh and his family were today attached by the Mumbai police, three days after lodging an FIR against
them for possessing assets disproportionate to their known sources of income.

The action by the Economic Offences Wing of the police came on a day the once powerful Mumbai Regional Congress Committee president failed to secure from the Supreme Court an interim stay or quashing of the Bombay High Court order for
prosecuting him under the Prevention of Corruption Act and attachment of his properties.

Fanning out across the metropolis, the police attached 12 immovable properties of Singh after raiding premises owned by him and his family members.

"We have attached all the immovable and movable properties belonging to him and his family members in Mumbai," a senior officer involved in the investigations told a news agency.

The process of attaching the properties of Singh and his kin outside the city is underway, he said.

According to the High Court order, Singh and his family owned 12 properties in the city, one in Panvel in Thane district, another in Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra and one in his native Uttar Pradesh.

"A huge quantity of documents have also been recovered. Among the movable properities, the seizure includes some cars and other valuables," the officer said declining to divulge further details.

Only one of the properties in the metropolis is in the name of Singh, while the rest are owned by his wife, son, daughter and son-in-law, police sources said.

The Bombay High Court had on February 22 ordered the prosecution of Singh for "criminal misconduct" under the Prevention of Corruption Act and attachment of properties owned by him. His family members were alleged to have abetted
the commission of offence.

During the raids that began at 8 am in the morning, over 120 police personnel spread across the city and attached the properties which include a duplex flat with terrace in Jupiter building in Vile Parle, Tarang bungalow, two flats, two offices and a plot in suburban Bandra, a shop at Bhandup, and a shop and two flats including one he obtained through chief Minister`s quota in suburban Powai and a flat in
Kurla, the sources said.

The attachment of properties at Panvel, Ratnagiri and Uttar Pradesh is underway and the process would be over in a day or two, sources said.

The Congress leader could not secure an interim relief today from the apex court, which ticked him off for "bench hunting" when the matter was mentioned before it.

The court refused to take up his plea today itself, thereby in effect denying him any interim stay on the High Court order or quashing it altogether.

The High Court had on February 22 held that a prima facie case of criminal misconduct was made out against the Congress leader and ordered his prosecution.

"The Commissioner of Police Arup Patnaik shall obtain sanction from the government to prosecute Kripashankar Singh for criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The role of other respondents (Kripashankar`s family)
shall also be investigated into," a division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice Roshan Dalvi had said.

The HC bench had said Patnaik shall collect documentary evidence regarding all movable and immovable properties of Singh and his family, including his wife, son
and daughter-in-law, who will also be prosecuted for aiding in the alleged crime.

"He started from scratch in 1970s. Until 1998 when he became MLA, nothing is shown to have been acquired by him," the HC said in its order on a PIL filed by activist Sanjay Tiwari, who alleged the Congress MLA had amassed huge wealth
disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Meanwhile, police have recovered nearly 400 live cartridges and two revolvers from one of Singh`s houses during the raid, a source said.

"Singh has licenses for these weapons," the source added.


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