Case Law Details

Case Name : Arun Kumar Agrawal Vs Union of India & Ors. (Supreme Court of India)
Appeal Number : Writ Petition (Civil) No. 374 of 2012
Date of Judgement/Order : 01/11/2013
Related Assessment Year :

Supreme Court on 01.11.2013 dismissed Writ seeking removal of Mr. UK Sinha from the post of Chairman of SEBI dismissed and observed that The petitioner was a stool pigeon acting on the directions of the business houses like Sahara and Reliance. It further observed that writ is been filed because of action taken by SEBI against some of the business houses recently.

Preliminary objections  raised by the respondents that the writ petition deserves to be dismissed on the ground that it is not a bona fide petition. According to the respondents, the petitioner has been set up by interested parties. We entirely agree with the submissions made by the learned Attorney General that the first requirement for the maintainability of a public interest litigation is the uberrimae fide of the petitioner. In our opinion, the petitioner has unjustifiably attacked the integrity of the entire selection process. It is virtually impossible to accept the submission that respondent No.6 was able to influence the decision making process which involves the active participation of the ACC, a high powered Search-cum-Section Committee with the final approval of the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister. The  proposition is so absurd that the allegations with regard to mala fide could have been thrown out at the threshold. We have, however, examined the entire issue not to satisfy the ego of the petitioner, but to demonstrate that it is not entirely inconceivable that a petition disguised as “public interest litigation” can be filed with an ulterior motive or at the instance of some other person who hides behind the cloak of anonymity even in cases where the procedure for selection has been meticulously followed. The respondents have successfully demonstrated how the petitioner has cleverly distorted and misinterpreted the official documents on virtually each and every issue. In our opinion, the petition does not satisfy the test of utmost good faith which is required to maintain public interest litigation. We have been left with the very unsavoury impression that the petitioner is a surrogate for some powerful phantom lobbies. Respondent No.2-SEBI in its affidavit has stated that the petitioner is a habitual litigant. He files writ petitions against individuals to promote vested interest without any relief to the public at large. We are at a loss to understand as to how in the facts of this case, the petitioner can justify invoking the jurisdiction of this court under Article 32. This is not a petition to protect the Fundamental Rights of any class of down trodden or deprived section of the population. It is more for the protection of the vested interests of some unidentified business lobbies. The petitioner had earlier filed writ petition in which identical relief had been claimed and the same had been dismissed. The aforesaid writ petition is sought to be distinguished by the petitioner on the ground that three successive writ petitions were withdrawn as sufficient pleadings were not made for the grant of necessary relief.

Even if this preliminary objection is disregarded, we are satisfied that the present petition is filed at the behest of certain interested powerful lobbies. The allegations made in the letter written by Dr. Abraham are without any basis and clearly motivated. Further, a perusal of the record clearly reveals that several complaints were filed against Dr. Abraham, wherein some serious allegations have been made against him in relation to his tenure as the Whole Time Member (WTM), SEBI. Also, it was only after the Ministry of Finance decided not to extend his tenure as WTM, SEBI and advertisements for new appointments were issued that Dr. Abraham started complaining about interference of the Ministry of Finance in SEBI through the present Chairman. We may also notice here that the letter dated 1st June, 2011  written by Dr. Abraham to the Prime Minister, that the Petitioner seeks reliance upon, was written merely a month and a half before Dr. Abrham’s tenure was to end. From the above, it is manifest that the letter written by Dr. Abraham was clearly motivated and espouses no public interest. The affidavit also narrates the action which has been taken by
SEBI against very influential and powerful business Houses, including Sahara and Reliance. It is pointed out that the  petitioner is a stool pigeon acting on the directions of these Business Houses. We are unable to easily discard the reasoning put forward by respondent No.4. It is a well known fact that in recent times, SEBI has been active in pursuing a number of cause celebre against some very powerful Business Houses. Therefore, the anxiety of these Business Houses for the removal of the present Chairman of SEBI is not wholly unimaginable. We make the aforesaid observations only to put on record that the present petition could have been dismissed as not maintainable for a variety of reasons. However, we have chosen to examine the entire issue to satisfy our judicial conscience that the appointment to such a High Powered Position has actually been made fairly and in accordance with the procedure established by law.

We find no merit in this petition which is accordingly dismissed.

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