The Supreme Court on Thursday said it was no longer interested in monitoring the Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam, allegedly involving 34 judges of the UP Higher Judicial Service and Allahabad High Court, besides a Supreme Court judge.
The scam, considered the biggest in India’s judicial history, came to light in January last year after a Ghaziabad District Court vigilance officer detected unauthorised withdrawals of about Rs 7 crore from the Provident Fund accounts of Class-III and Class-IV employees.
During the hearing of two petitions, seeking a thorough probe into the scam, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arijit Pasayat said the main demand for a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had already been granted.
“If everything is going well, where is the need for monitoring the CBI probe?” the bench, which received CBI’s fourth progress report on the probe, asked. The court made it clear that it did not expect any further status report on the probe and adjourned the hearing till August.
The two petitions were filed by the Ghaziabad Bar Association — demanding a CBI probe into the scam — and by Transparency International (India), questioning the need for the Chief Justice of India’s permission to prosecute a judge.
Maintaining that the first petition had become ‘infructuous’, the court said it would keep the other issue pending. However, on behalf of the petitioners, senior advocates Anil B. Divan and Shanti Bhushan requested the court to continue monitoring. Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati said he too wanted monitoring, but later, he left it to the bench.
Responding to Bhushan’s apprehension that in the absence of monitoring, the CBI might bury the case, Justice Pasayat said, “The Supreme Court is not exercising any supervisory power or advisory jurisdiction over the CBI.” Justice V.S. Sirpurkar, another member of the bench, said, “That (monitoring) would be against the basic tenets of criminal law.”