Graft Case: SC Stays Proceedings Against Jaffer Sharief

New Delhi
Graft Case: SC Stays Proceedings Against Jaffer Sharief

The Supreme Court today stayed proceedings in a 1995 corruption case against former Railway Minister C.K. Jaffer Sharief.

A bench headed by Justice P. Sathasivam also issued notice to CBI on Sharief's appeal and sought reply within two weeks.

The apex court passed the order after senior counsel P.P. Rao submitted that the 80-year-old Congress leader was innocent and CBI was trying to make a "mountain out of a mole hill".

Responding to queries from the bench, Rao submitted that Sharief as the Railway Minister at that time was entitled to take personal staff during his foreign trip.

Sharief had approached the apex court against an April 11 order of the Delhi High Court, dismissing his plea challenging a trial court's decision to reject a CBI closure report in the corruption case against him and prosecute him instead.

Sharief is accused of "dishonestly" ensuring journey of his erstwhile Additional Private Secretary B.N. Nagesh, stenos S.M. Masthan and V. Muralidharn, and driver C.H. Samaullah to London with him.

The case dated back to 1995 when Sharief, as a Union minister, had gone to London for his treatment and had allegedly taken four of his staff on the trip "unauthorisedly, causing a loss of Rs seven lakh to the state exchequer."

A special CBI court had yesterday framed charges against the former minister for allegedly causing loss to the public exchequer during the foreign jaunt undertaken by him.

The special court has fixed August 21 for commencing the trial of Sharief, who has been charged with various offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

On May 10, the apex court had refused to stay the framing of charges against Sharief.

An FIR was registered against Sharief in 1998 by CBI. However, in 2005, the agency filed a closure report citing refusal of sanction.

But the lower court rejected the closure report, saying it appeared that the entire material collected by the prosecution had not been placed before sanctioning authority.

CBI again filed a closure report. The special judge, however, had declined the agency's request and took cognisance of the case under the anti-corruption law.

Sharief's plea against the trial court's decision was rejected by the high court, which had stated that his act did not require sanction under the CrPC to try him for offences under the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act.

He had then approached the apex court against the order of the high court.

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