Apex court dismisses lawyer’s petition in Vodafone case

New Delhi : The Supreme Court Friday dismissed as “irresponsible and scandalous” a petition by advocate M.L. Sharma that alleged conflict of interest over the apex court’s verdict in the Rs.11,218 crore ($2.2 billion) tax dispute case of telecom firm Vodafone.

“This is an irresponsible petition. We have grave reservations about it. We have bonafide doubts about… you want to destroy the institution,” the bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai said slamming Sharma.

As Sharma contended that he wanted to save the institution, the court said that “as a member of the bar of this court, we expected better conduct from you”.

Pulling up the petitioner while dismissing the petition, the court imposed a cost of Rs.50,000 on him for filing “frivolous” and “scandalous” petition.

Telling the counsel Sharma that he was wasting its time, the court said: “We have read your petition line by line and more we read it, more hurt we feel.”

“We see the cavalier and irresponsible way the petition was filed.”

Sharma had alleged in his petition filed last month that Chief Justice S.H. Kapadia had not disclosed that his son Hoshnar Kapadia worked with Ernst and Young, a consultant firm that had tendered advice to Vodafone on taxation issues.

Sharma filed the petition after Indian tax authorities filed a review petition in the case.

The case involved a levy on a 2007 transaction in which Vodafone Plc had paid $11.2 billion to Hong Kong-based Hutchison for acquiring a 67 percent stake in Indian telecom services major Hutch Essar.

In January, the Supreme Court had ruled in favour of Vodafone saying that Indian officials did not have jurisdiction over a deal between two global companies even if assets involved in that deal were located in India.

A bench of Chief Justice Kapadia, Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan and Justice Swatanter Kumar Jan 20 set aside a Bombay High Court order that upheld the tax demand by income tax authorities on account of the said acquisition.

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