The government has justified its decision of not having initiated any probe into the allegations of corruption against former Chief Justice of India, YK Sabharwal, saying he was protected by law.
This response from the Justice Department of the Law Ministry came in reply to a Right to Information (RTI) query from Delhi-based activist, Subhash Chandra Agrawal.
"Protection is available to the judges serving and retired for the acts committed in the discharge of official or judicial duty or function under the Judges (Protection) Act, 1985," the department said.
The reply was in response to a query on the status of probe, if any, against the former CJI, who faces allegations that his sons unduly benefited in their business from his orders on sealing of commercial establishments running in residential areas of Delhi.
Justice Sabharwal, who has all along denied the allegations, was not available for his comments.
The latest controversy surrounding the former CJI’s sons and their business partner is the ongoing appeal in the Delhi High Court challenging its earlier verdict, which allowed Chetan and Nitin Sabharwal and their business partner to buy a R 122 crore property in Lutyen's Delhi.
A single judge bench of the High Court in April allowed Chetan and Nitin Sabharwal, together with their partner Kabul Chawla, chief of real estate company BPTP, to buy the 2.70-acre property at 7, Sikandra Road. This has been challenged by other parties before a division bench now.
Asked about this business deal, the Department of Justice has said it does take note of media reports about the higher judiciary, but has no power to take action.
"No action has been taken by the Department since media reports cannot be treated as complaints and also it relates to a retired judge of the Supreme Court," it stated.
The Law Ministry has consistently maintained that it has no authority to probe former judges, but it has been giving contradictory reasons for its stand.
Earlier, it maintained there was no specific provision in the Constitution to look into charges against retired judges and now it says they enjoy immunity under the 1985 law.
The ministry is however, silent, on those provisions of Judges (Protection) Act, which empower it take up the matter related to any erring judge with his respective chief justice. Also no permission is required in case of a retired judge.
In its reply to the same RTI queries, the Supreme Court has said its registry does not maintain "any such information."