Supreme Court  against fresh inquiry into the ‘cash-for-jobs’ scam

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On May 16, 2023, the bench including Justice V Ramasubramanian and Justice Krishna Murari allowed a batch of appeals against the Madras High Court order seeking a fresh inquiry into the cash-for-jobs scam. In this scam, the Tamil Nadu Minister and DMK MLA, V Sethilal Balaji was accused of accepting bribes from job aspirants in exchange for appointments to the state transport corporation. The bench also set aside the High Court’s direction to stay the proceedings in the money laundering case lodged by ED (Enforcement Directorate). While giving the judgment, the Supreme Court stated that “the investigation and trial of a criminal case cannot be converted by the complainant and the accused into a friendly match. If they are allowed to do so, it is the Umpire who will lose his wicket.” It added, the power to order de novo investigation should be exercised sparingly and that this was not the case where the power requires to be exercised. Moreover, the top Court mentioned that the High Court did not quash the summons issued by the ED and merely injuncted ED from proceeding further till the clog on the cases relating to predicate offences was removed. 

During the proceedings, the bench pronounced that “the appeal arising out of the March 2022 order of the division bench of the high court is dismissed. The appeals challenging the November 2019 and November 2021 orders leading to an extension of time for completion of the investigation are dismissed. The investigating officers are to proceed with further investigation and file further final report in two months. The contempt petitions and interlocutory applications are dismissed.” Along with this various arguments were raised related to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. One such argument was regarding the Permission to ED to inspect the records of the Special Court trying the predicate offences. It was determined that the High Court did not pass any order directing the grant of certified copies of unmarked documents. All that the High Court did was permit the ED to have an inspection of the documents under Rule 237 and thereafter to file a proper copy application which is not contrary to Rule 231(3). The Supreme Court stated that “All the three writ petitions challenging the initiation of proceedings by ED shall stand dismissed. The appeal challenging the orders of the High Court relating to extension of time for completion of investigation is dismissed.” Also, the contempt petitions and IA were dismissed by the Supreme Court of India.