Judge says court-monitored probe or setting up of a Special Investigation Team is only done "in rarest of rare cases and not because a Union Minister is said to be involved”.
The Delhi high court, on Tuesday, dismissed as "premature" the plea of former Indian cricketers Kirti Azad, Bishan Singh Bedi and others seeking a court-monitored probe by CBI or SIT into the alleged financial irregularities in the Delhi and District Cricket Association.
Refusing to entertain the petition, Justice Manmohan noted that the CBI has already started a preliminary enquiry on October 23, 2015 and the agency needs to be given time to complete its investigation.
The judge also observed that a court-monitored probe or setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) is only done "in rarest of rare cases and not because a Union Minister is said to be involved”.
“This court is in agreement with ASG Neeraj Kishan Kaul that the petition is premature," the judge said.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Neeraj Kishan Kaul told the court that the petition was premature as the CBI has been probing the alleged irregularities since October 2015 and, in that process, it has examined 18 witnesses till date.
He also told the court that documents were sought from the DDCA and other connected bodies which have provided some documents. The ASG told the court that in a short span of three months, CBI cannot be expected to complete the investigation and file a chargesheet when the alleged irregularities pertain to the period from 2008 to 2014.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who appeared for the petitioners, contended that the CBI hasn’t lodged an FIR yet in the matter.
He claimed that as per some audit reports and findings of a fact-finding committee, there were irregularities in the cricket body with regard to various aspects including finances, tendering process, ticketing and broadcast rights among others.
Meanwhile, ASG Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Centre, contended that the prayer in the plea seeking cancellation of privileges given to DDCA was "misconceived and baseless".
He said land at concessional rates is given to other sports bodies, just like it was given to DDCA, and this was done as per a policy decision and thus the privileges of DDCA cannot be taken away when the policy has not been challenged.
Azad, Bedi and others had, on February 1, moved the high court demanding appointment of an independent administrator to look into the alleged financial irregularities in the DDCA.
The plea, filed by former cricketers Azad, Bedi, Maninder Singh, Dronacharya awardee cricket coach Gurcharan Singh and two others, had sought direction to the Centre "to cancel the privileges like subsidised land that have been extended to DDCA and to ensure that no loss is caused to exchequer".
The plea had said an investigation by a "SIT or a court- monitored investigation by CBI" be carried out to look into the criminal offence committed by DDCA officials.
It had said, "The petitioners (Azad and others) apprehend that the CBI will not be able to conduct a free and fair investigation of allegations made against DDCA, especially since Arun Jaitley, during whose tenure as president most of the allegations pertain to, is presently a senior Cabinet minister in the Union Council of Ministers and is also the leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha."
The BJP has suspended Azad for his attack on Jaitley and served him a show-cause notice asking why he should not be expelled.
Image: Former India cricketer Kirti Azad