New Delhi: The Supreme Court has recalled its own judgment giving excise duty relief worth Rs803 crore to ITC Ltd, within minutes of it being pronounced yesterday.
A bench consisting of justices Ruma Pal and P Venkatarama Reddi had reserved the judgment in December last year. Yesterday, justice Ruma Pal was sitting with justice Arun Kumar.
After she delivered the judgment in the packed court hall allowing the appeals filed by ITC, the order was given to counsel to read it, though justice Reddi had not signed it. She told ITC''s counsel that some corrections had to be carried out. But suddenly the order vanished from the court hall as the counsel had taken it out.
The news of the company winning a major legal battle pushed up the price of its share in the stock market. But after the judgment was recalled, the prices dropped.
When justice Ruma Pal came to know that the order was missing from the court even before the other judge had signed it, she called for ITC''s counsel. He came and explained the circumstances how the order came out along with the case bundle, but the judge refused to accept it and told him "the order is being recalled. The judgment is now reserved. Further orders on the matter would be passed in consultation with justice Reddi." Had the order not been recalled, justice Reddi would have signed the judgment during the course of the day. The judge was so infuriated over this incident, that she retired to her chamber and came back for the regular hearing after a few minutes.
In the afternoon, counsel explained in writing the circumstances under which the order was mistakenly taken out along with other case papers. He tendered an apology for the lapse. Till the judges rose for the day, no action was taken on this application.