CBI probe in 7 cr Ghaziabad GPF scam: SC

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New Delhi, Sep 23: The Supreme Court on Tuesday, Sep 23 ordered CBI investigation in the Rs 7 crore Ghaziabad District Court GPF scam in which 36 judges, including one sitting Supreme Court judge and 11 Allahabad and Uttarakhand High Court judges have been named as beneficiaries of the scam.

A bench comprising Justices Arijit Pasayat, V S Sirpurkar and G S Singhvi, accepting to the request of the petitioner to monitor the investigation, directed the CBI to submit a status report to the Court within three months. The apex court, however, said the CBI would be at liberty to file a final report/chargesheet in the appropriate court even before three months and the court should proceed according to the law. The main accused, Ashutosh Asthana, former treasurer of the Ghaziabad District Court Treasury, presently in jail, had named 36 judges including one sitting Supreme Court judge, 11 High Court judges and 24 District and Session Court judges of Ghaziabad as beneficiaries of the scam.

Regarding the interrogation of sitting judges by the CBI, the apex court said till date no judge had been made an accused in the case and parameters would change once they were made accused in the case.

The apex court also told Solicitor General G E Vahanvati to submit the list of those accused in the case who were employees of Ghaziabad District Court.

Three petitioners namely Ghaziabad District Court Bar Association, former Union Law Minister and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan and Transparency International had filed petitions for a CBI inquiry into the scam in which Rs 7 crore were fraudulently siphoned off during 2001 to 2007 from the GPF account of the employees.

Ghaziabad police have already filed chargesheet against 75 accused involved in the scam.

According to the District Bar Association, the scam is of Rs 23 crore and not of Rs 7 crore as alleged in the FIR.

Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and second senior most judge Justice B N Agrawal had earlier withdrawn from the hearing of the case when allegations were made by the petitioner that the judges are being protected.

The Mayawati Government in Uttar Pradesh had already given a consent for the CBI inquiry as Ghaziabad police expressed its inability to investigate the case as the names of some Judges of the High court cropped up in the statement made by Asthana under section 164 of the CrPC recorded by Special Judge Rama Jain.

The apex court also directed that the entire case recordings including the statements of all the accused as well as witnesses should be handed over to the investigating officer appointed by the CBI.

Earlier, senior counsel Anil Diwan and Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, contended that the judges facing allegations of corruptions must also be subjected to the CBI investigation like any other citizen of the country. There cannot be different yardsticks for judges.

The suggestion of the District Court Bar Association for a judicial inquiry in the scam was turned down Mr Bhushan and Transparency International.

The Union Government today informed the apex court that it was ready for the CBI probe on a condition that the CBI would be at liberty to use the infrastructure and manpower of UP Police as the premier investigating agency is short of manpower.

The Chief Justice has earlier permitted the CBI to interrogate two sitting judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the 'cash at judges door scam'.

Justice Balakrishnan has also recommended the removal of sitting Calcutta High Court Judge Soumitra Sen through impeachment by Parliament as the judge had refused to resign or to take voluntary retirement for alleged misappropriation of Rs 32 lakh which was given to him as receiver in a dispute between the SAIL and Shipping Corporation of India.

UNI

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