Apex court’s new bench to hear graft case against judiciary

August 12th, 2008 - 8:13 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) With the second senior most judge of the Supreme Court last Thursday abandoning the hearing of a graft case against the judiciary, the Chief Justice of India has entrusted the hearing to another bench of the apex court. The new bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat, who is the fourth senior most judge of the apex court, is likely to begin hearing the graft case against judges from the second week of September.

The cases include two lawsuits seeking a high-level probe into allegations that several retired and sitting judges, including those from higher judiciary, were beneficiaries of fraudulent withdrawals of over Rs.70 million from Ghaziabad district court’s treasury between 2001 and 2007.

The two other judges on the bench will be Justice V.S. Sirpurkar and Justice G.S. Singhvi, who had been hearing the matter earlier along with Justice B.N. Agrawal.

Justice Agrawal had abandoned the hearing following repeated allegations by former union law minister and senior counsel Shanti Bhushan that “the Supreme Court is protecting corrupt judicial officials”.

Earlier, Chief Justice of India, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan had opted out of the hearing as Shanti Bhushan had sought to challenge his administrative order to Ghaziabad police to submit its written questionnaire, meant for the alleged beneficiary judges.

The Ghaziabad police, which is probing the fraudulent withdrawal from the district court’s treasury, had earlier sought Chief Justice Balakrishnan’s permission to quiz various sitting and retired judges, including those of the Allahabad High Court and one of the apex court, on the veracity of allegations.

The office of Chief Justice of India had asked the police to submit its written questionnaire to it for vetting before being posed to the judges.

In his lawsuit filed on behalf of NGO Transparency International, Shanti Bhushan had objected to this order of the CJI’s office saying that they were akin to “putting the fetters” in the probe of the scam, allegedly involving the judges.

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