Chief justice transfers corruption case to another bench

July 29th, 2008 - 9:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 29 (IANS) Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan has decided against personally hearing a plea for high-level probe into allegations that several judges of higher judiciary, including an apex court judge, had benefited from the fraudulent withdrawal of funds from a Ghaziabad court’s treasury. The chief justice took the decision as he faced a challenge to his administrative order that asked the Ghaziabad police to interrogate the judges facing the allegation only through his office.

His office had earlier asked the police to first submit a questionnaire for proper vetting before posing them to judges.

The chief justice has now transferred the matter to another bench headed by Justice B.N. Agrawal, the next senior-most judge of the apex court.

As per the apex court’s business schedule for Aug 1, the matter, involving alleged corruption in higher judiciary, would be heard by the bench comprising of Justice Agrawal, besides Justices V.S. Sirpurkar and G.S. Singhvi.

Former court clerk Ashutosh Asthana, the key accused in the scam, had in his statement named several judges, including 24 district and sessions judges of Ghaziabad, besides a sitting apex court judge and 11 high court judges, as beneficiaries of fraud.

During the last hearing of the matter by the bench headed by the chief justice, senior counsel Shanti Bhusan, appearing for the India chapter of Transparency International, had demanded a CBI probe in the matter and had also pleaded for police interrogation of all the accused - including the judges - arguing that there cannot be different yardsticks for judges and the common man.

During the hearing, the chief justice had observed that if his administrative order was under challenge, he should better leave the bench.

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