Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan has withdrawn himself from the Ghaziabad provident fund scam case, allegedly involving some UP judicial officers, certain judges of the Allahabad High Court and a Supreme Court judge.
The CJI recused himself after the Indian chapter of Transparency International challenged his administrative decisions related to the scam probe. The corruption watchdog is seeking a "through and unfettered" probe by the CBI into the scam.
Two petitions related to the sensational case, in which the CJI's Bench had on July 17 issued notices to the Centre and the UP Government on the plea for a CBI probe, is now listed for hearing on August 1 before another Bench headed by Justice
BN Agrawal. The Ghaziabad Bar Association has filed the second case.
Senior advocate Shanti Bhushan had on the last date pointed out on behalf of Transparency International that the CJI could not hear a petition challenging his own administrative decisions relating to the scam probe. Bhushan had said SC Secretary General VK 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", Bhushan had said there could not be different sets of procedures for judges and other people involved in a corruption case.
The CJI had clarified that the petition did not challenge his administrative decision, inasmuch as its prayer related only to judicial officers (subordinate court judges) while his decision was with regard to Allahabad High Court Judges. He had made it clear that if the petitioner changed its prayer so as to mean the judges of the higher judiciary, he would not hear it. The prayer has since been changed.
According to SC ruling in the Veeraswami case, an HC or SC judge cannot be proceeded against in a criminal case without the CJI's prior permission. In view of this ruling, the Ghaziabad SSP had sought the CJI's permission for probe against judges of the higher judiciary.