Apex court seeks report on graft probe against judges

March 27th, 2009 - 9:37 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 27 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to apprise it by March 31 of the outcome of its probe into the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs.70 million from the Ghaziabad treasury that allegedly benefited several judges, including from the higher judiciary.
A bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat sought detailed report of the probe after Solicitor General Goolam E. Vahanvati told the court that the CBI has not been able to gather any evidence against some judges, whose names figured in the scam.

Though Vahanvati did not disclose if evidence was gathered against any judge at all, he said in many cases the CBI might have to file a closure report and drop allegations against the judges.

The law officer made the submission to the bench, also comprising Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice G.S. Singhvi, on a plea by Kanpur District Judge Subhash Chandra, who wanted the court to clear his name from the scandal. Chandra said it had jeopardised his chances of promotion to the post of judge in the Allahabad High Court.

The scandal involved fraudulent withdrawal of social security funds from the Ghaziabad district court’s treasury. Its kingpin, Asutosh Asthana, in his deposition before a district court had named Subhash Chandra along with nearly three dozen judges from various tiers of the judiciary as beneficiaries.

Asthana said he had been meeting monthly household expenditures of Judge Chandra, to the tune of Rs.25,000, besides giving him cash of Rs.150,000-Rs.200,000 per month.

Dismissing Asthana’s claims as “wild and reckless allegations of a desperate man”, Judge Chandra told the apex court that his entire judicial career was being sullied by these allegations when he is on the verge of retirement.

He said had there been any truth in the allegations, he would not have withdrawn Rs.100,000 from his own provident fund for the higher education of his son.

Vahanvati also pleaded to the apex court to transfer the trial of the cases involving the scandal to Delhi from Ghaziabad.

Seeking the status report into the probe by March 31, the bench slated hearing of the case to April 1.

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