The order comes after Samsung chairman moved the Supreme Court seeking to quash a criminal case and non-bailable warrants issued against him
The Supreme Court asked Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Electronics to appear before a trial court at Ghaziabad in a cheating case.
A Bench of Justices CK Prasad and PC Ghose passed the order on an appeal filed by Lee challenging Allahabad High Court’s order dismissing his plea for setting aside non-bailable arrest warrant issued against him. The court, however, made it clear that it was not expressing any opinion on the merit of the case pending before the trial court.
“However, the warrant of arrest issued against the petitioner (Lee) shall not be executed for a period of six weeks from today (31st March). In the meanwhile, the petitioner shall appear before the trial court in seisin (hearing) of the case and seek bail and/or exemption from appearance in accordance with law,” the Bench said.
JCE Consultancy, an Indian company in 2002 had filed a complaint against the South Korean consumer electronics company and its chairman for failing to pay Rs8.4 crore ($1.4 million).
Lee had then approached the High Court and the Supreme Court for quashing of first information report (FIR) against him but his plea was rejected by both the courts earlier.
The trial court, thereafter, issued arrest warrant against him for not appearing before it in the case.
With an estimated net worth of $12.6 billion, Lee Kun-hee and his family rank among the Forbes richest people in the world. He is the third son of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull.
Lee Kun-hee had resigned in April 2008, owing to Samsung slush funds scandal, but returned on 24 March 2010. On 14 January 2008, Lee's home and office were raided by the Korean police for an ongoing probe into accusations that Samsung is responsible for a slush fund used to bribe influential prosecutors, judges, and political figures in South Korea.
The Seoul Central District Court found him guilty on charges of financial wrongdoing and tax evasion and fined him just 110 billion won (about $98 million) and sentenced him to 3 years suspended jail time.
Months later, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak gave Lee Kun-hee a second personal pardon so that he could remain on the International Olympic Committee.
According to Wikipedia, in 2010 the company's former chief legal counsel Kim Yong-chul published a book called Think Samsung. It revealed alleged shocking details of Lee Kun-hee's personal corruption, claiming that he stole up to 10 trillion won (about $8.9 billion) from Samsung subsidiaries, destroyed evidence, and bribed government officials to ensure the smooth transfer of power to his son.
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Information Commissioners usually ask PIOs to lodge an FIR in the police station in case a file goes missing. In one case under the RTI, the CIC asked the PIO to ‘reconstruct’ the missing file to facilitate justice to a doctor allegedly involved in a criminal case
When Jugal Kishore, a Delhi resident asked for the file pertaining to a show cause notice of one Dr Prashant Kumar of Lok Nayak Hospital, he was denied information by the Public Information Officer (PIO) stating that the file was ‘missing’. When Kishore went in for an appeal, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) ignored his request. He then filed a second appeal to the Central Information Commissioner (CIC).
The CIC ordered the PIO and FAA to search for the ‘missing’ file and lodge a first information report (FIR) at the police station about the missing file. Two years went by and yet the file could not be found and FIR was also not lodged. Considering that Dr Kumar’s fate lay in the finding of that file, CIC M Sridhar Acharyulu in a historic decision asked the hospital to ‘reconstruct’ the missing file in February 2014.
The CIC stated, “Earlier, the Commission did not direct the Respondent to recreate the file. Since the Commission found that Respondent Authority was not successful in tracing the file, it is necessary in the interest of providing required information by the Appellant, which might help him prove the innocence of Dr Prashant Kumar, directs the PIO to collect the information from different sources to reconstruct the file of Dr Prashant Kumar as far as possible. The Appellant too offered to cooperate with the PIO in reconstructing the necessary documents to prepare the file of Dr Prashant Kumar.”
Following is the chronology of this interesting RTI case as projected in the CIC order of 24 February 2014.
CIC concluded in its order, "This case assumes very serious propositions and it affects the liberty of Dr Prashant Kumar who is totally depending on the discovery of missed file. There is a delay of more than two years in either tracing the file or fixing up the responsibility. The so-called enquiry conducted did not yield any result. Hence, the Commission is compelled to recommend that the Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) to conduct an independent enquiry without involving officers of Respondent Public Authority and giving an opportunity to Appellant to provide his allegations against some of the officers of Public Authority and to provide innocence of Dr Prashant Kumar. The entire exercise is to be completed within two months of receipt of this order. A copy of the enquiry report along with the action taken shall be shared with the Appellant and the Commission within two weeks of completion of the exercise.''
The deadline for the enquiry report to be submitted to CIC is April.
Earlier, in a similar case, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner, on 29 July 2009 had directed the PIO to give a copy of the reconstructed file created by using papers and communications received by the appellant.
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)