The Supreme Court on Friday snubbed the special committee of the Punjab Assembly for usurping judicial functions in passing certain directions at the time of expelling former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh and two others in the Amritsar land scandal.
A three-judge bench of Justices B N Aggrawal, G S Singhvi and Aftab Alam said the legislature cannot take over the functions of the judiciary just as the latter cannot make laws for the country.
"No court can make a law. Legislature cannot take over judicial function. Does it not amount to taking over investigations and adjudicatory functions?" the apex court questioned senior counsel, Ravi Shankar Prasad appearing for the Punjab Assembly.
The court made the observation after counsel for Capt Amrinder Singh said the committee after holding him guilty in the land scandal had directed the police to ferret out and unearth the alleged ill gotten money and submit a report within two months.
"It is virtually a recording of conviction and how can they fix a two months' time. How can they convict, only the court can convict. Have they got the jurisdiction to monitor the investigations." the bench wondered.
However, the apex court rejected the plea of Amrinder Singh's counsel to stay the custodial interrogation of the accused in the scandal.
"Unfortunately or fortunately if you are taken into custody and arrested you apply for bail," the bench observed.
On the Punjab Government's plea that Amrinder Singh and the other two accused should cooperate with the police in the investigation, the apex court said the latter was bound by law to do so. "They have to cooperate. They are bound to, under the CrPC provision,," the bench said.
The apex court also rejected the plea of Amarinder Singh that certain observations of the committee would influence the trial court and hence the Magistrate should be directed to ignore the same.
"It will be a bad signal. We have confidence in the magistracy. The magistrate will not be influenced by such orders or observations. Judicial minds are trained. Media, particularly the electronic media, may say anything but judiciary will not be influenced," the bench observed.
Responding to the counsel's submission that the action against Amarinder was a political vendetta due to the change in Government, the bench asked "What's happening in the country? By change of Government cases are being filed?"
The apex court did not agree with the counsel's argument that the Speaker cannot direct registration of an FIR.
"When a private citizen can set the law in motion by filing an FIR why not the House or the Speaker?" the court asked the counsel.
The apex court also said that the Speaker and the House had the power to expel an MLA or MP. "They have the power to expel," the bench said.
The bench also posed a query to the Punjab Assembly counsel as to whether the House can expel a legislator merely because he/she was facing a prosecution.
"Supposing a prosecution is launched against an MLA, can the House expel him?" the bench asked, to which the counsel said that was not the issue before the court.
The court then posted the matter for further hearing to December 2.