SC notices to Centre and UP in Ghaziabad GPF scam

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New Delhi, Jul 17 (UNI) The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government on a petition seeking CBI investigation into the Rs seven crore Ghaziabad district court treasury General Provident Fund scam, which allegedly involves 36 judges, including one of the apex court's sitting judges and 11 Allahabad and Uttarakhand High Court judges.

Rs seven crore were fraudulently siphoned off during the period 2001-2007.

A bench, comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal, issued the notices after hearing senior counsel and former Union Law Minister Shanti Bhushan, who appeared for NGO Transparency International (India chapter).

He contended before the court that ''judges who are facing allegations of corruption should also be subjected to CBI investigation like other public servants in order to save and protect the dignity and honour of the institution.'' Mr Bhushan also pleaded that the CBI should be given a free hand to conduct fair investigation into the scam without being fettered by any restrictons.

Ashutosh Asthana, the incarcerated treasurer of the treasury, had named 36 judges -- a sitting Supreme Court judge, 11 Allahabad and Uttarakhand High Court judges and 24 district and sessions judges of Ghaziabad -- in his statement recorded by special judge Rama Jain under section 164 CrPC which is admissable as evidence in the court.

Last week, the apex court had ordered that it would hear the petition in the Judges' chamber and had agreed to consider senior counsel F S Nariman's suggestion of judicial probe instead of police investigation into the scam.

The Supreme Court, however, recalled its order and decided to hear the matter in the open court.

According to Ghaziabad District Bar Association, the scam is worth about Rs 23 crore and not worth Rs seven crore. Rs four crore were withdrawn during last year alone, it had said.

Three former Chief Justices -- Justices P N Bhagwati, J S Verma and V N Khare -- and former Supreme Court judge V Krishna Iyer had backed the demand for police investigation into the scam.

The present Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan had also written a letter through General Secretary of the apex court V K Jain to SSP Ghaziabad on June 12, asking him to prepare separate questionnaires for the 12 Supreme Court and High Court judges on the basis of the evidence collected against them.

According to the letter, the CJI was not even averse to personal interrogation of the judges if their explanations were not found satisfactory.

There are total 83 accused in the case, out of which 34 are already jailed.


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