Journalist investigating fraud among corporates claims he was attacked; SC asks AG to ensure safety

The crucial issue came up before a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) U.U. Lalit while it was hearing a case related to a company which allegedly took loans from 27 banks and siphoned off the money


Soon after the Supreme Court was told on Wednesday. October 12 that a journalist who is investigating a case of corporate fraud was being stalked and was even attacked, the court asked the attorney general to provide security to the man.

The issue came up before a bench headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) U.U. Lalit while it was hearing a plea related to a company which allegedly took loans from 27 banks and siphoned off the money. The court stated it cannot reveal the identity of the journalist.

Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, appearing for the petitioner, placed before the bench an affidavit in a sealed cover and said the journalist has investigated the corporate fraud and is now facing threats. He said the man was also attacked on his way home in Noida.

The top court ordered that a copy of the affidavit should be sent to the office of attorney general R. Venkataramani so steps could be taken for his safety.

The bench told Venkataramani, who was present in the court, that there is an allegation about a particular corporate fraud being looked into by a certain set of people, including investigative journalists, and one of the media persons has now filed an affidavit saying he is being stalked and watched. The three-member bench, also comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and S.R. Bhat, apprehended that the personal safety of the journalist may be compromised.

“We cannot disclose the name of that gentleman in the form of an order because we do not want it to be known,” the bench said, adding it will forward a copy of the affidavit to the office of the AG.

“You use your office and see to it that the man is provided security,” the bench orally said.

The apex court said the attorney general has assured it that the matter will be looked into and adequate and effective steps shall be taken to ensure the personal safety of the person concerned and his family.

At the start of the hearing itself, the bench was informed by the petitioner’s counsel about the company took loans from 27 banks and a forensic audit report indicates that the money was swindled.

“I want to place something in a sealed cover,” the lawyer said, adding, “it is something important”. Observing that that the journalist fears for his life, he urged the bench that a senior counsel be appointed to assist the court as an amicus curiae in the matter.

“Because it is not just Rs 12,700 crore relating to one entity, there are two more entities which were also publicly listed and similar modus operandi have been followed in those entities as well and another Rs 12,500 crores have been siphoned through those two entities. So, a total of approximately Rs 25,000 crore has been siphoned,” the lawyer claimed.

According to LiveLaw, the petitioner said when the companies went into liquidation, all those assets were sold. It was at this point that the lawyer placed on record additional information that was found by the investigative journalist. The information was submitted in a sealed cover to the bench.

The counsel, while elaborating upon the situation of the investigative journalist, said:

“He had been investigating the matter side-by-side on his own and those are his findings which he gave us, which are placed before the bench in a sealed cover. He fears for his life. He has been accosted. He lives in Noida and he has been attacked once on the way to his home. Very interestingly, I have also been…somebody has reached out to me as well in my capacity as a lawyer. I thought that I must place these facts before your lordships.”

The bench, while appointing senior advocate Kavin Gulati as amicus curiae, posted the matter for hearing on November 3.

(With inputs from PTI)



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