Within 10 days of being slapped with a fine of Rs 50,000 by the Supreme Court for filing a "frivolous" petition alleging conflict of interest against Chief Justice of India S H Kapadia in the Vodafone case, advocate M L Sharma on Monday again raised the same charges against the CJI in another case relating to Tata Industries Ltd.
Sharma, in his application filed in the case Tata Industries Ltd vs deputy director of income tax (international taxation), which is being heard by a bench headed by Justice Kapadia, said the CJI’s son-in-law was working with Taj Hotel of Indian Hotels Company Ltd belonging to the Tata group.
Seeking fresh hearing of the Tata case before another bench, the advocate said he had on February 27 written a letter to the CJI mentioning about his family members working with the Tata group "with a prayer to disclose his conflict of interest" and recuse himself from the proceedings.
This letter was noticed by the Supreme Court Registry in its office report dated February 28 and placed it before a bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana P Desai along with Sharma’s writ petition No. 71 of 2012, which had alleged conflict of interest relating to the Vodafone case.
The office report said, "It is again submitted that as directed by Registrar (J-I) & (J-II) a copy of the letter dated February 27, 2012 received from Manohar Lal Sharma addressed to Hon’ble CJI is enclosed herewith. Mr Jehangir Press is son-in-law of Hon’ble CJI who is working with Taj Hotel, run by Indian Hotels Company Ltd. It is submitted for the information of the Hon’ble Court that Hon’ble CJI has not been taking the matters of Indian Hotels Company Ltd since May 2007."
After taking into account this report and hearing Sharma, the bench of Justices Alam and Desai had on March 2, 2012 dismissed his writ petition relating to the Vodafone case. It said, "In our view, the petition is not only frivolous, it is highly irresponsible and scandalous. It is accordingly dismissed with costs amounting to Rs 50,000. The cost will be payable to the Supreme Court Employees Mutual Welfare Fund. A receipt showing payment of the cost must be filed within one month from today."
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