In a relief for senior Karnataka cop Seemanth Kumar Singh and bureaucrat J Manjunath, the Supreme Court today stayed observations made by Karnataka High Court calling the former a "tainted officer" and the Karnataka Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) a "collection centre".
Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, while directing the High Court to decide on the bail matter afresh, said that those observations were unconnected to the case, and not within the ambit of the proceedings.
"Conduct of the Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) officer is unconnected to the case that was being heard. Rather than considering the bail application, the judge focused on other things which may not be relevant and beyond the scope," he said.
Karnataka Additional Director General of Police Seemanth Kumar Singh and Indian Administrative Services officer J Manjunath had moved the top court seeking expunction of "adverse" remarks of Karnataka High Court judge HP Sandesh which were made during the hearing of a bribery case. They also sought a stay on the proceedings.
Justice Sandesh had questioned why Mr Manjunath, the then Bengaluru Urban Deputy Commissioner, was not made an accused in the bribery case.
Besides adverse oral observations, the HC judge had issued directions ranging from seeking reports on prosecution/closure of cases, probed by the ACB, since 2016 and summoning confidential service records of the Additional Director General of Police while considering the regular bail application of an accused, the top court was told by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the state government.
IAS officer J Manjunath, who is currently in jail in the bribery case, said that some of the observations were made against him without giving him an opportunity to represent himself.
The plea said, "The High Court has lost sight of the fact that such remarks at nascent stages of investigation have a disastrous bearing on the fair probe and judicious conclusion of the criminal proceedings, including his right to remedy of bail," and added that he has been subjected to media trial due to these remarks.
The judge later claimed to have received a threat of transfer after his remarks.
"Allegations made by the judge are a different matter and we don't want to give an impression that we are favouring one side," the CJI said.
The matter is to be heard next after three weeks.