"It is sad and unfortunate that the Supreme Court dismissed my plea", Bhushan told Reuters.
In what appeared to be a big setback for Opposition (especially Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi), the Supreme Court has rejected a plea for probing alleged payoffs by the Birla-Sahara group when he was the Gujarat chief minister.
"Given the shape in which these documents have been collected and filed, we are of the opinion that it would not be safe and proper to order the investigation", the court said in its order.
"There has to be some cogent material which is prima facie reliable...in case we do not insist for the same and order investigation, process of law can be misused and no democracy can function if investigation is set in motion against high Constitutional functionaries without cogent material", noted the bench in its order after a day-long hearing. "The interim applications are found to be merit less and are dismissed", the bench said. "He needs to answer it as this is an issue of answerability before 125 crore Indians and doesn't require a certificate from any court", Congress leader Sandeep Dikshit said in a statement.
He said that that no one in the country would be safe if such documents were accepted as legal evidence. But the bench relied upon V C Shukla's case, popularly known as Jain Hawala Diary case, to hold that computer printouts, hard disks, etc., did not comply with the mandate of the Evidence Act and that they required corroboration to be appreciated as admissible as evidence.
Stating that Modi always claims "zero tolerance for corruption", Diskshit asked what prevents him from coming forward and submitting himself to an independent probe.
The Sahara diaries have been seized by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Income Tax (IT) department 2013-14 raids at the offices of Sahara's and Birla's. He argued that the order of the settlement commission on the Sahara case is riddled with inconsistencies.
The apex court said that the documents placed by Prashant Bhushan in Birla-Sahara case were also not credible enough to direct a probe against PM and others.
The bench agreed with the submissions of Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi who referred to earlier judgements of the apex court and said that entries made by unscrupulous persons in papers, diaries were inadmissible evidence.