Former SC Court Masters Accused Of Tampering With Judicial Documents In Anil Ambani's Contempt Case Arrested
Two former Supreme Court masters-Manav Sharma and Tapan Kumar Chakraborty have been arrested. On February 13, the apex court dismissed them after they were accused of tampering with a judicial document, making it appear to say that Anil Ambani has been exempted from personal appearance in a contempt case filed by Ericsson.
Officials of SC dismissed
Court masters Manav Sharma and Tapan Kumar Chakraborty employed as assistant registrars in the apex court were dismissed. As part of their job, they were supposed to take down all orders dictated in the open court or in the judges’ chambers.
The decision to suspend Sharma and Chakraborty was given by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and he signed an official order dismissing the two officials after the initial inquiry showed tampering. The Telegraph reported that the CJI quoted Section 11(13) of the SC. Under this, CJI can dismiss employees without initiating disciplinary proceedings, in extraordinary circumstances.
After the alleged tampering, which was uploaded on the SC website on January 7, the order said “personal appearance of the alleged contemnor(s) is dispensed with” instead of “personal appearance of the alleged contemnor(s) is not dispensed with”. As reported by New18, Justice Nariman who was hearing the contempt case against Ambani, just hours before the document was uploaded, had said that Ambani was required to be available in person.
Sources say that omission of the word “not” was not accidental. The discrepancy was pointed out by the Ericsson representatives after the tweaked order was uploaded. After the discrepancy was pointed out, Justice Nariman expressed shock and got the correct order uploaded. He then filed a complaint and preferred an inquiry against court officials.
As reported by The Telegraph, unless the court says otherwise, a person has to appear in person against whom proceedings have been initiated under the Contempt of Court Act.
After the order was revised, Ambani was present in the court on February 12 and 13 in regard to the proceedings. As per News18, Justice Nariman told Mukul Rohatgi and Kapil Sibal who were appearing for RCom and Ambani said, “Consequences will follow of what you have done”.
Ericsson vs RCom
The Supreme Court on February 20, had held Reliance group chairman and its directors guilty of contempt for willfully not paying Rs 550 crore to Ericsson. The earlier order had come after Ericsson, the Swedish telecom equipment maker, filed third contempt plea in the court as Reliance Communications (RCom) failed to pay its dues. The court had said that if within four weeks, Anil Ambani failed to pay dues then he will be sent to jail for three months. Finally, in March, Ambani paid dues worth Rs 459 crore.
The Ambani-owned company, on September 28, 2018, had asked for a 60-day extension to the previously decided deadline of September 30 to settle dues. So, RCom was supposed the due on December 15. However, the company again failed to pay the dues, following which Ericsson filed a second contempt petition. Earlier Ericsson has petitioned in the apex court to not allow Anil Ambani and two senior executives from his group to leave the country after the alleged default in payments, reported The Times of India.