SC recalls order of hearing PIL in-camera in GPF fraud case

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New Delhi, Jul 14 (UNI) The Supreme Court today recalled its order of hearing a PIL in judge's chamber involving 36 judges who are facing allegations of being beneficiaries of Rs 7 crore GPF fraud, which took place in Ghaziabad district court treasury between 2001 and 2007.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sadhasivam and J M Panchal agreed to hear the PIL in the open court on July 17.

The case involves 36 judges, including one sitting Supreme Court judge, 11 High Court judges and 24 judges of subordinate judiciary.

The order came on a petition filed by an NGO Transparency International (Indian Chapter) seeking CBI investigation into the matter.

Last Monday, the Supreme Court had decided to hear the petition in judge's chamber on the suggestion of senior counsel F S Nariman who wanted a judicial inquiry instead of police investigation.

Mr Nariman was appearing for Ghaziabad District Bar Association, according to which the scandal is of about Rs 23 crore and not of Rs 7 crore as stated in the FIR.

The kingpin of the scam Ashutosh Asthana, who was the treasurer in the treasury when the scam took place and is presently in jail, in a statement recorded by special judge Rama Jain under section 164 CrPc, has named 36 judges as beneficiaries of the ill-gotten money which was siphoned off fraudulently on the basis of fake documents and fictitious government servants.

In all there are 83 accused in the case.

Transparency International has prayed to the apex court to direct the CBI to conduct a thorough investigation into the scam giving it a free hand to interrogate or investigate the judicial officers without any fetters.

The petitioners have contended that transparency and openness in the investigation of the scam is a must to clear the air regarding the involvement of judges of higher judiciary and also to protect the reputation of the institution of judiciary in the eyes of the public.

Three former Chief Justices of India namely J S Verma, V N Khare and P N Bhagwati and former Supreme Court judge V Krishna Aiyar have also supported the demand for CBI investigation into the scam.

UNI SC AM DS1625

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