The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notices to the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh Government on a petition seeking a CBI probe into the Ghaziabad provident fund scam, allegedly involving 36 judges.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan asked the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh Government to respond to the petition filed by Ghaziabad Bar Asociation by August one, the next date of hearing.
It however, turned down a suggestion by senior counsel Anil B Divan for the investigation to be supervised by a senior retired police officer.
“This is a criminal case with a serious ramifications…A retired police officer cannot be allowed under the law to supervise serving police officers,” the court said making it clear that the probe had to be in accordance with the provisions of Criminal Procedure Code.
The hearing of the case that was held in an open court, witnessed a spat between the CJI and senior advocate Shanti Bhushan with the latter saying Justice Balakrishnan could not hear a petition challenging his administrative decisions relating to the scam probe.
Bhushan, who appeared on behalf of Transparency International (India), pointed out that since the petition challenged the CJI’s administrative decisions, he should not hear the matter.
Referring to a newspaper report, Bhushan said SC Secretary General V.K. Jain had written to Ghaziabad SSP that he should prepare a questionnaire for examining the Judges of the higher judiciary allegedly involved in the scam for prior vetting. The questionnaire would form the basis of the probe.
Terming it as “unheard of”, the senior advocate said there could not be different sets of procedures for judges and other people involved in a corruption case.
The CJI said the petition did not challenge his administrative decision, in asmuch as its prayer related only to judicial officers (subordinate court judges) while his decision was with regard to Allahabad High Court Judges, he clarified. According to the Supreme Court ruling in the Veeraswami case, a high court or Supreme Court judge cannot be proceeded against in a criminal case without the prior permission of the CJI.
“If you want a sitting high court judge to be interrogated by a constable you amend your prayer (to include high court judges), Somebody else (some other bench) will hear it,” the CJI said.