New Delhi, March 24
Alleging misuse of central probe agencies such as the CBI and the ED by the Union Government, 14 political parties, including the Congress, AAP, RJD, DMK, TMC and the BRS, on Friday moved the Supreme Court seeking pre-arrest and post-arrest guidelines.
A Bench led by CJI DY Chandrachud agreed to take up the petition on April 5 after senior advocate AM Singhvi mentioned it for urgent listing. “There is a clear trend of using ED raids as a tool of harassment... 95 per cent of the cases are of Opposition leaders. We’re asking for pre-arrest and post-arrest guidelines,” Singhvi told the Bench. He, however, clarified, “We’re not trying to affect the existing investigations.”
The petition comes at a time when several leaders of the Opposition parties — which have moved the top court — are facing the CBI and ED probes in corruption and money laundering cases.
The 14 political parties represented 42 per cent spectrum, Singhvi said, adding many leaders had been arbitrarily arrested by the central agencies. The petitioners — Congress, DMK, RJD, BRS, TMC, AAP, NCP, Shiv Sena (UBT), JMM, JD(U), CPI(M), CPI, Samajwadi Party, and National Conference — claimed together they represented 45.19 per cent of the votes cast in the last state Assembly elections and 42.5 per cent of the votes cast in the 2019 General Election, and were in power in 11 states/UTs.
They alleged the misuse of central agencies in arresting Opposition leaders and other citizens infringed their fundamental right to dissent. The CBI and the ED were being increasingly deployed in a “selective and targeted manner” to “completely crush political dissent” and “upend” the fundamental premises of a representative democracy, they alleged.
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