Senior Advocate Dushyant Dave has alleged that two cases involving Adani Group’s companies were listed out of turn by the Supreme Court during the summer vacation and disposed of in contravention to the settled practice and procedure of the Apex Court.
Dave has written a letter to Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi setting out the details of the two cases.
The first case is Parsa Kenta Collieries Ltd v. Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Limited (Civil Appeal 9023/ 2018). This case arose out of SLP (C) 18586/ 2018 in which leave was granted on August 24, 2018 by a Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Indu Malhotra.
On April 8 this year, notice was published by the Registrar (Judicial) stating that regular hearing matters will be taken up during the summer vacation “as per the norms and guidelines approved by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India”.
On May 9, the list of such cases to be listed during the summer vacation was published.
The Civil Appeal of Parsa Kenta was included in that list at Serial no 441, the letter by Dave states. Interestingly, the said case also had a remark: “in the month of May 2019.”
Dave says that the matter was not ready for hearing, as evidenced by an order of Registrar RK Goel passed on March 14, 2019.
Despite that, the matter was listed on May 21 before a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah. When the matter was taken up on May 21, the Bench heard the arguments of Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar and listed the matter for further arguments on May 22.
On May 22, the Court concluded the hearing and reserved its judgment. Dave alleges that many other counsel appearing in the matter were not informed of the same.
“Did the Bench inquire into its urgency? Seems not. Did the Bench take up other matters for hearing which were older and urgent? Seems unclear”, states Dave in his letter.
Ultimately by a judgment dated May 27, 2019, the Civil Appeal was partly allowed.
The second case which Dave has pointed out is M/s Adani Power (Mundra) Ltd v. Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission and Ors.
In that case, an early hearing application was mentioned on May 23, 2019 before the same vacation bench of Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah. Upon mentioning, the Bench directed that the matter be listed the next day, i.e. May 24.
On May 24, the matter was heard by a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and Surya Kant and judgment was reserved.
This case had earlier come up for hearing before a Bench of Justices Jasti Chelameswar and AM Sapre on February 1, 2017, when it was adjourned with the order saying “list the matters next week”. It was not listed thereafter before any Bench.
That being the case, Dave states that the application for early hearing should not have been entertained at all since the case did not fall within the ambit of circulars dated April 29, 2019 and March 7, 2019.
The letter goes on to state that the junior advocate from the office of the respondent AoR requested the Bench not to take up the matter, but the Bench did not heed to the request and heard the matter straightaway. The said appeal was eventually allowed.
Benefit of thousands of crores
The total benefit to Adani Group from these two judgments will run into thousands of crores, alleges Dave.
The hearing in these two appeals was done in complete contravention of the settled practice of the Supreme Court, he contends.
“Both these matters were listed, taken up and heard without any justification and in hurry and in an improper manner. As a result, besides causing grave injury to public interest and public revenue, it has caused immense damage to the image of the Supreme Court…It is disturbing that the Supreme Court of India should take up regular matters of a large corporate house during the summer vacation in such a cavalier fashion.”
Dave clears the air by stating that he is not commenting on the merits of the two judgments, but is only suggesting procedural violations in listing the cases which “appear to be extremely unjustified as per the established practice and procedure followed by this Hon’ble Court.”
The issue raises very serious and disturbing question as to whether the Registry sought concurrence from the CJI while listing the matters. If not, was the Registry party to such listing in violation of its own Practice and Procedure, asks Dave.
Dave has, therefore, requested the CJI to look into the issue and take corrective steps.
The letter also notes that the composition of vacation benches in May 2019 had surprised the entire legal fraternity. This was because the CJI himself and Justice Arun Mishra were part of vacation benches. This was surprising because “generally, if never Senior judges did not sit on Vacation Benches.”
Interestingly, Dave ends his letter with a disclaimer that he himself has been a Counsel for the Adani Group of companies over the years. He had appeared before the Rajasthan High Court in one of the two cases mentioned by him in the letter involving Parsa Kenta Collieries.