A bench of justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai ruled that Jagan can apply for bail only after the Central Bureau of Investigation completes its investigation in all the seven other cases lodged against him.
"The contours are much larger," the bench observed while refusing to entertain the persistent plea of senior counsel Gopal Subramaniam, who appeared for Jagan.
Responding to queries from the bench, the CBI said it would complete the investigation by March 31, 2013. However, it later told the bench that it would try to complete it much more expeditiously.
The apex court passed the order after Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran and senior counsel Ashok Bhan appearing for the CBI contended that Jagan cannot be granted bail as investigations were still underway in seven cases against him and letter rogatories have been issued to various countries as the cases have international ramifications.
Responding to queries from the bench, Parasaran said the total amount accumulated by Jagan and his associates, insofar as the four charge sheets have been filed, amounted to over Rs 3,000 crore. He submitted it would not be proper to release Jagan at this stage as the case "is a very serious economic offence that is unparallelled. The accused is also known for his political prowess. The saga of investigations is still continuing."
"They are so influential that they can influence the witnesses even while being inside," the ASG said.
Parasaran's argument, however, was countered by Subramaniam who said bail was a statutory right and Jagan was entitled to the same as otherwise it would violate his right under article 21 of the Constitution.
Counsel for Jagan, Gopal Subramaniam pleaded that his client was in jail for the past 120 days and expressed apprehensions that it would take years for the CBI to complete investigations. "They may take even 20 years to complete the process of issuing letter rogatories. It has happened in several cases. I can't be denied bail till that time," the counsel submitted.
The court, however, was not impressed with the argument and said in such a case he can always come back to the court, but declined to modify its order under which it had granted more time to the CBI to complete its probe and file one additional chargesheet.
As a last ditch effort, Subramaniam sought court's permission to withdraw the bail petition as the court declined to entertain it.
While opposing Jagan's bail plea, the CBI had claimed on September 11 that the trail of his disproportionate assets extended not only to different states but also abroad.
In an affidavit, the CBI had alleged Jagan had enriched himself by several thousands crores of rupees illegally by using influence of his father and granting him bail at this juncture would erode public confidence in the administration of justice.
According to the CBI, Jagan had made several attempts to influence witnesses, had not cooperated with the investigating agencies, attempted to stifle investigation and prosecution by filing several petitions and initiating frivolous proceedings.
The CBI had also alleged that having regard to the huge finances available at the disposal of Jagan and his political clout, he is likely to interfere with the process of further probe being conducted by it in the case.