In a reprieve for the central government, the Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to interfere into the Punjab National Bank (PNB) loan fraud case at this stage, and said it will let the government investigate.
“We must allow the government to investigate. We must not preclude the government from performing their duties under the law,” said a bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.
The bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said that the top court will not pre-empt the government from doing its duties and probe."If they don't do it, then it is a different matter. We will decide whether we should step in or not," said the bench.
The court's observation came after Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, opposed the PIL filed by Supreme Court lawyer Vineet Dhanda.
As soon as Dhanda stood up to argue his petition,Venugopal said he is opposing the PIL. "Investigations are underway. FIRs have been filed...process is on," he said.
But Dhanda insisted that the court should formally issue a notice to the government and ask for a status report on investigation.
The bench, however, replied that since the AG was already present and that he might challenge the maintainability of the petition, notice did not require to be issued.
But Dhanda stood his ground and questioned why the court should simply adjourn the matter and not seek a report from the government in a case where millions of honest people in the country are made to suffer because of connivance between powerful people and bank officers.
At one stage, the bench cautioned Dhanda against his high-pitch voice and wondered if the petition is meant for galleries and publicity.
"Fortunately or unfortunately we are concerned only with legal arguments. We are not concerned about emotional appeals so make your arguments in law...we will also hear the AG only on the point of law and will examine his grounds of objection. We will then decide on notice or affidavit," said the court.
Dhanda's PIL has sought string of directives to the government, including deportation of Nirav Modi within two months and rehaul of the entire mechanism to grant loan and recover it.