On Friday, the Supreme Court declined to entertain a petition requesting an inquiry signed between Congress and the Communist Party of China in 2008 by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) or the Central Investigation Bureau (CBI) on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
A bench, led by SA Bobde, India’s chief justice, directed the petitioners first to move the high court before moving the Supreme Court. The petitioners subsequently withdrew the petition.
“How can a political party enter into an agreement with China. It is unheard in law,” the bench remarked.
The petitioners — Shahshak Shekhar Jha, a Delhi-based advocate, and Goa-based online news portal editor Savio Rodrigues, Goa Chronicle — submitted that the MoU poses national security issues and should be investigated by the NIA for offenses under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) or the CBI.
Senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, representing the petitioners, submitted that there are sinister motives behind the agreement and it should be brought out in public domain.
He also asked for permission to amend the petition.
The court, however, asked the petitioners why they have not approached the high court first.
“The case involves issues relating to national security,” Jethmalani replied.
Responding to it, the bench said that is not a bar to file the petition before the high court.
The petitioners had alleged that the Congress had signed the MoU when it was leading a coalition government at the center and it also failed to disclose the facts and details of the agreement to the public.
“Petitioner No. 2 (Savio Rodrigues) had demanded the respondents to make the said MoU public, however, no heed was shown in that respect which shows the malafide intention of the Respondents (Congress party and its leaders)”, the petition stated.
Both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have also been made a party to the case apart from the Congress party.
“Issue an order directing NIA to investigate the said agreement under UAPA”, it was prayed by the petitioners.
The UAPA is a law aimed at punishing those involved in terrorist activities and activities intended to bring about the secession of any part of the country from the union of India.
As an alternative, Jha and Rodrigues sought a court-monitored probe by the CBI.
After the recent face-off between Indian and Chinese armies at Ladakh, the Congress party had stepped up its attack on the Narendra Modi government alleging that the government failed on diplomatic and military fronts.
The ruling BJP, on the other hand, countered by pointing out the MoU signed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on behalf of the Congress with the Chinese Communist Party. The MoU was signed at Beijing in the presence of Sonia Gandhi, who was then the chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) headed by the Congress.
Placing reliance on media reports, the petitioners submitted that at least 600 incursions happened from the Chinese side into Indian territory between 2008 and 2013.
“The Congress party brought the Right to Information Act during its rule, yet it failed to be transparent in this matter which is of national importance”, the petition said.