Bribe-for-judge scandal turns murkier

January 12th, 2009 - 9:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 12 (IANS) A scandal involving delivery of a hefty sum of cash at the door of a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in August has got murkier with the name of a Supreme Court judge being dragged in it.Justice Nirmal Yadav, who is suspected to be the intended recipient of the cash delivered at the doors of Justice Nirmaljit Kaur, has said she was being made a scapegoat and Justice Nirmaljit Kaur had “illicit relationship” with a sitting Supreme Court judge.

A clerk of Haryana’s then law officer Sanjeev Bansal had delivered a packet containing Rs.1.5 million in cash at the doorstep of Justice Nirmaljit Kaur Aug 13. She reported the matter, leading to Bansal’s sacking and a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe.

The scandal is also being probed by a judicial panel formed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan. The committee, comprising of Chief Justices Hemant Laxman Gokhale of the Allahabad High Court and K.S. Radhakrishnan of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and Delhi High Court judge Madan B. Lokur submitted its report to CJI Balakrishnan Dec 12.

Chief Justice Balakrishnan has sought Justice Yadav’s reply to the report, which has indicted her.

In her reply, Justice Yadav has objected to the judicial panel’s purported assumption that the probe is targeted only against her and aimed at unravelling the whole truth.

“I humbly submit that it is a patent case of travesty of justice that the judge from whose custody the cash was recovered has been made to sit on the Bench, while I am being made a scapegoat because a judge of the Supreme Court and a senior high court judge (are) trying to interfere with the investigation,” Justice Yadav said in her reply, released to the media Monday.

In her reply dated Jan 7, Justice Yadav added: “Almost two-decade-old liaison between the supreme court judge and the judge at whose residence the cash was delivered had been a talk of the town for all these years.

“It is on this ground that the Supreme Court judge’s wife sought divorce,” said Justice Yadav in her reply, without revealing the name of the judge.

“The illicit relationship between the two assumed scandalous proportions because Justice Nimaljit Kaur, prior to her elevation (as a high court judge), continued to appear before the present judge of the Supreme Court, while he was a judge in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and enjoyed a flourishing practice in his every bench,” she said.

Justice Yadav also pointed out: “The committee itself records that a judge of the Supreme Court and a senior judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court may have been present in the house at the time of the delivery of the cash.”

Justice Yadav in her reply also cited the telephone call records of the Supreme Court judge’s son to prove the presence of the apex court judge at Justice Nirmaljit Kaur’s residence at the time of the cash delivery.

After the cash was delivered at Justice Nirmaljit Kaur’s residence, she had called in the police and had got law officer Bansal’s clerk arrested. The subsequent probe by the police and CBI had thrown open the possibility that the cash, meant to fund some land deal by Justice Yadav, had wrongly reached Justice Nirmaljit Kaur’s doorstep.

The CBI is still probing the matter.

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