Attorney General KK Venugopal on Thursday declined advocate Vineet Jindal’s request to start contempt of court proceedings against Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal for denouncing judgements in Zakia Jafri and Prevention of Money Laundering Act cases, Live Law reported.
At a Delhi event on August 6, Sibal had rebuked the Supreme Court’s dismissal of Zakia Jafri’s plea challenging the Special Investigation Agency decision to clear Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots case.
Zakia Jafri’s husband, Congress MP Ehsan Jafri, was hacked to death when a mob went on a rampage in Gulberg Society on February 28, 2002, setting fire to homes. Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat at that time.
Sibal was also displeased with the verdict upholding the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act that gives unbridled powers to the Enforcement Directorate to arrest individuals and seize their properties.
Referring to these judgements, the senior advocate had said that there was no hope left in the Supreme Court. “And I am saying this after completing 50 years of practising in the Supreme Court,” he had said. “You talk about progressive judgements delivered by the Supreme Court but there is a huge difference of what happens at the ground level.”
He had also alleged that sensitive cases are assigned to select judges and the legal fraternity already knows the outcome of the verdict.
On Friday, Venugopal said that Sibal’s critiques were within the purview of fair comment allowed under Section 5 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971, Live Law reported. “No part of the statements cast any blame or aspersion upon the court,” he added.
The attorney general said that the judgement upholding the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, is sub-judice and the court is looking into a review petition.
About allocation of cases, he said that four Supreme Court judges in 2018 had expressed similar views when Dipak Mishra was the chief justice of India.
Venugopal also said that the court “may take note of the statements [made by Sibal] in the larger interest of the justice delivery system”. He added that the comments were not intended to scandalise the court or erode the confidence of the public in the institution.