In a farewell snub to the chief justice of India, KG Balakrishnan, who is retiring in two days, the government has decided to turn down a proposal for transfer of three judges by a panel headed by him.
These were not ordinary transfers. These judges were moved out as punishment for alleged involvement in misuse of provident fund of the Ghaziabad courts running into crores.
A panel of the five senior-most judges of the country headed by Balakrishnan — called the collegium — recently recommended that those three judges be returned to their earlier positions, as if nothing had happened.
The three judges being transferred back were: Justices Sushil Harkauli and Tarun Agarwal to return to the Allahabad High Court, and Justice JCS Rawat to the Uttarakhand High Court.
The names of the three judges figured in the list of alleged financial beneficiaries in the scam. They were named by the main accused-turned-approver in the case, Ashutosh Asthana, who died under mysterious circumstances in the district jail.
The Law Ministry has not agreed with the collegium's recommendation to transfer the three high court judges to their original postings, within a few months of their transfers on "disciplinary" grounds, HT has learnt.
"The collegium's recommendation will be sent back for reconsideration. There is no justification to re-transfer the judges within months who were named in a scam ...," said a senior ministry official.
Law Minister M Veerappa Moily declined to comment.
"Judges appointments and transfers can't be discussed in public," he said.
These judges were among the 36 judges Asthana named in his confessional statement before a magistrate. The CBI is understood to have questioned them also.
The SC ordered a CBI probe in September 2008 following a petition by the Ghaziabad Bar Association and Transparency International India. The CBI's final report is expected soon.
Justices Harkauli and Rawat were transferred to Jharkhand High Court in July and October, 2009 respectively. Agarwal was sent to Uttarakhand High Court in September.