The Supreme Court on Friday decided against the transfer of the provident fund (PF) scam involving sitting Allahabad high court judges from Ghaziabad to Delhi.
A special bench headed by justice DK Jain said: "We do not find any merit in the CBI plea seeking transfer of the case from Ghaziabad to Delhi. The transfer of the case would undermine the credibility and independence of judiciary."
The CBI had sought shifting of the trial from Ghaziabad to Delhi arguing that the case was "first of its kind," that had "shaken the foundation of the judiciary." The agency also expressed its apprehension on the possibility of the accused judges interfering with the administration of justice and influencing witnesses.
The court said it was difficult for it to believe that the Ghaziabad court, which is hearing the case, would be biased and not be impartial due to the involvement of former colleagues of the judge presiding over the court. The Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) apprehension "misplaced", the bench held.
The Supreme Court, however, permitted the High Court chief justice to create an additional special court to hear the matter. At present there are only two special CBI courts in Uttar Pradesh — Lucknow and Ghaziabad.
According to the directive of the Supreme Court, the state chief justice can now designate a court in any other district to hold the trial of the case.
"The paramount consideration is to meet the ends of justice, which should not only be done but it should also seen to have been done," attorney general
GE Vahanvati told the court on behalf of the CBI.
The CBI chargesheet had named six retired district judges, out of whom three, Ravindra Kumar Mishra, Ajay Kumar Singh and Radhey Shyam Chaubey, were elevated to the Allahabad High Court.
There are 70 accused in the case and the scam involves fraudulent withdrawal of money from the PF accounts of class III and IV employees of Ghaziabad district court in which names of judges, including one from the apex court, had surfaced as beneficiaries from the withdrawn money.