In a boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a plea to probe the alleged payoffs by the Birla-Sahara groups to him when he was the Gujarat Chief Minister.
Rejecting a plea by NGO Common Cause, Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy said the documents produced to seek an FIR against the Prime Minister and other political functionaries including government officials had no "evidentiary value."
"If we were to order investigation on the basis of material with no evidentiary value, it would be difficult for constitutional functionaries to function, which would not be safe for democracy," the court said.
"Given the shape in which these documents have been collected and filed, we are of the opinion that it would not be safe and proper to order investigation," the court said in its order while weighing the evidence in the context of earlier judgments of the apex court, including that of the Constitution Bench.
The judges said they were not doubting the decision of the Settlement Commission of the Income Tax department on the issue.
Both Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had flashed what they said were Income Tax department documents to claim that Modi got huge sums of money as bribes when he presided over Gujarat.
Petitioner Prashant Bhushan said he was dismayed by the court ruling.
"It is not a blow to me but a blow to the people of the country," he told the media, adding "it is a blow to the reputation of the Supreme Court because today it has let down the people of the country."