Apex court stays Ghaziabad provident fund scam trial (Lead)

July 28th, 2010 - 9:05 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday restrained the trial in the multi-crore rupee Ghaziabad provident fund (PF) scam case pending in a court in the Uttar Pradesh town on the capital’s outskirts.
The court restrained the proceedings in the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court after the investigating agency sought the transfer of the case from Ghaziabad to Delhi.

The case relates to fraudulent withdrawal of Rs.6.58 crore from various PF accounts of employees of judicial department by the then bill clerk late Ashutosh Asthana. Asthana died while the investigation into the matter by the CBI was in progress.

The apex court restrained the proceedings after Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati, appearing for the CBI, sought the transfer of the case to a court in Delhi on the grounds of unwarranted interference by the Ghaziabad district judge in the trial.

The CBI told the apex court bench of Justice D.K. Jain, Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice G.S. Singhvi that the district judge by an oral order has asked the Uttar Pradesh police to implead itself in the proceedings before the CBI court as it had initially investigated the scam.

The CBI said it will file an affidavit seeking transfer of the case from Ghaziabad to Delhi.

The investigating agency told the apex court that in the PF scam a chargesheet has been filed against six former district judges of Ghaziabad — three of whom were elevated as judges of the Allahabad High Court.

The CBI, in an affidavit, said that special CBI court judge who is conducting the trial had worked with or under some of the chargesheeted judicial officers in the past.

The affidavit said that the judge is also heavily overburdened with the trial of 175 cases including sensitive cases including 14 Nithari killing cases, NOIDA land allotment case against a former Uttar Pradesh chief secretary, Kavita Chaudhary murder case and Aligarh Muslim University murder case.

On the directions of the Allahabad High Court some of these cases were being tried on day-to-day basis, the CBI said.

In pursuance of the earlier direction of the apex court, the attorney general suggested a Special CBI court in Delhi that could be entrusted with the trial of the PF scam.

The apex court asked the attorney general to find out if the Special CBI court in Delhi suggested by him will be able to handle the case.

At this, the attorney general said that he would get in touch with the registrar general of Delhi High Court to address the court’s query.

At the outset of the proceedings, the attorney general told the apex court that of the 41 judges and judicial officers who were under the scanner of the investigation agency for the scam there was no material evidence in respect of 17 judges and judicial officers.

In respect of the remaining 24 judges and judicial officers, there was not enough evidence to prosecute them.

The CBI report has been sent to the competent authorities to initiate appropriate action against them for their various acts of omission and commission, the attorney general said.

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