Despite Passing a Similar Order Four Days Ago, Why SC Judge Snubbed Chidambaram's Bail Plea


New Delhi: Even as lawyers for P Chidambaram made vehement requests, Justice NV Ramana on Wednesday declined to issue any order on the petition filed by the former Union minister.

"How can I hear the matter without it getting listed? We cannot do anything beyond it," the judge told senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who was pleading for a protection from arrest till the Supreme Court takes up Chidambaram's petition for hearing.

But on August 16, Justice Ramana, who happens to be the most senior judge to hear the mentioning while the CJI sits in the Ayodhya Constitution Bench, did pass an order in a case which was yet to be listed.

In a case relating to Bhushan Steel's former chief financial officer and director Nittin Johari, Justice Ramana passed an order, staying the Delhi High Court decision.

The case, filed by the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) had not been listed but the judge did pass an order upon a mentioning made by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

While the SFIO had arrested Johri for alleged fraudulent activities, including filing false documents with various banks, the Delhi High Court granted bail to him on August 14, noting "the broad probabilities of this case justify release of petitioner (on bail)".

The SFIO, through the SG, moved the Supreme Court against this order on August 16, and a mentioning was made before Justice Ramana, who passed an order even though the matter was not listed at that point of time.

Justice Ramana took into account the submission that Johri was likely to fly abroad and stayed his bail.

"Upon being urgent mentioning of the matter by the learned Solicitor General appearing for the petitioner – Serious Fraud Investigation Office, this matter was taken on board today. List the matter on Tuesday, the 20th August, 2019 before an appropriate Bench. Till such time, the impugned order of the High Court is stayed," Justice Ramana's order said.

On Wednesday, Sibal sought to remind Justice Ramana of this order when the judge indicated that he cannot protect Chidambaram in the interim by staying the Delhi High Court order.

Sibal told the judge that he could pass a similar order in Chidambaram's case also but Justice Ramana declined his plea. "That was a different case. He was going abroad," said Justice Ramana, snubbing the plea to grant interim protection from arrest to Chidambaram.