PNB fraud: Centre opposes parallel probe

The centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that there can not be a "parallel inquiry" and "parallel monitoring" by the court in investigations while opposing a suggestion given by the top court to the CBI to file in a sealed cover the status of the probe in the over Rs 11,000 crore the Punjab National Bank fraud case.

The Central government told the Supreme Court during a hearing relating to the Nirav Modi-PNB fraud case that there can not be any "parallel inquiry and monitoring" in addition to the ongoing investigations by CBI, Enforcement Directorate and other probe agencies.

Brushing aside attorney general K K Venugopal's objections to the PIL petitioner's locus standi and argument against judicial intervention at this stage, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked, "Why can't you file the probe status report in a sealed cover before us?"

The bench was dealing with a PIL filed by advocate Vineet Dhandha demanding a court-monitored SIT probe into the scam allegedly involving Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and some top PNB officials.

Indian investigators have so far arrested almost 20 people, including some senior executives of companies owned by Modi and Choksi as well as high-ranking officials of state-owned Punjab National Bank, in the fraud probe.

Terming this issue as serious, Mr Venugopal told the bench that such a matter would bring down the morale of the investigating agencies.

Petitioner's counsel J P Dhanda then told the court that the AG was apparently replying to some other similar petition as he had not read the prayers sought by him in the plea.

The CJI asked, "Is this an argument, the AG has not read the petition?"

Venugopal even questioned the manner in which PILs are filed in courts in criminal cases, even before agencies start their investigation. "Language in this court has to decorous and absolutely appropriate", the chief justice said backing AG. The bench said it would not hear the petition on Friday because of Dhanda's aspersion on the AG and adjourned the hearing to April 9. An annoyed CJI added, "The AG's post is a Constitutional post. We won't hear this matter today", an irked CJI said.

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