Apex court feels disturbed over allegations against judges

August 1st, 2008 - 8:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 1 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday felt “disturbed” over allegations that several sitting and retired judges, including those of higher judiciary, had been the beneficiaries of fraudulent withdrawal of over Rs.230 million from Ghaziabad district court’s treasury. “It’s a matter which is deeply disturbing, if the facts are correct,” observed a bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal, while hearing a public interest lawsuit seeking a high level probe into the scam.

It involves the fraudulent withdrawal of funds from the Ghaziabad court’s treasury, allegedly on the order of various district judges of the court since 2001.

The bench, which also included Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice G.S. Singhvi, however, appeared to disapprove of a demand for interrogation by the police of the higher judiciary’s judges, who allegedly benefited from the fraudulent withdrawal of the fund.

The bench disapproved of the demand saying it involves “the independence of judiciary, which is a must for a healthy democracy and the good of the people”.

The bench said the question of interrogating higher judiciary judges or lodging criminal cases against them fell in the administrative domain of the Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan and without his permission it is not possible to interrogate or prosecute them.

The bench said that serving judges of higher judiciary enjoy immunity from prosecution as per the apex court’s old ruling known as Veeraswami case. They also have constitutional immunity from protection, the bench said.

About the serving judges of Uttar Pradesh lower judiciary, involved in the scam, the bench observed that that they cannot be interrogated or prosecuted without the permission of the Allahabad High Court.

On the question of interrogation and prosecution of retired judges of lower judiciary, the bench held partial hearing and adjourned the matter to Wednesday.

The bench, however, appeared to have an open mind over the questioning of retired higher judiciary judges and asked the counsels to apprise it of various legal provisions and judgements on the issue next Wednesday.

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