CJI sends back accused plea to Bench that passed order

A Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir on Thursday refused to adjudicate a plea by four 2G spectrum case accused against an order of another apex court Bench, which had stayed proceedings on all petitions relating to this case before the Delhi High Court. The Bench said it was proper in the circumstances that their petition should be heard by the same Bench, which had passed the order, under challenge. It sent the matter to the Bench led by Justice G S Singhvi and asked the counsel for the petitioners to get a hearing after mentioning it before the designated Bench.

Swan Telecom promoter Shahid Usman Balwa, Vinod Goenka, Asif Balwa and Rajiv Aggarwal had filed the petition, seeking to quash the April 11, 2011 and November 9, 2012 orders of Justice Sighvi's Bench. In these orders, the Bench had said "any prayer for staying or impeding the progress of the trial can be made only before this court." On November 9, the Bench, citing this order, had stayed all proceedings relating to the 2G case pending before the HC.

The HC at this time was seized of petitions from a few accused, including former telecom minister A Raja and DMK MP Kanimozhi, who had sought quashing of the charges framed by the trial court.

Arguing for the petitioners, advocate Ram Jethmalani cited it as a "grave question of violation of constitutional and legal rights," warranting an interference by the CJI-led Bench. However, the CBI counsel, advocate K K Venugopal, raised preliminary objections to the maintainability and hearing of this petition by this Bench. He read out from judicial precedents to underline that an order passed by one Bench of the court could not be modified or quashed by any other Bench. "No Bench is superior or subordinate to another Bench of the court. It does not have jurisdiction to quash an order passed by another Bench. Moreover, notices in these matters have already been issued by the other Bench. They should pray for a hearing there only," he added.

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