Chief Justice of India KG Balakrishnan has given the CBI permission to question two sitting judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in connection with the “cash-at-judge’s-door” scam, allegedly involving judges, lawyers and Chandigarh-based property dealers.
This is the first time the CJI has allowed questioning of sitting high court judges, sources said, adding, “Permission was granted to enable the agency to get to the bottom of the case.” In the Ghaziabad provident fund scam case, allegedly involving 36 judges, the CJI had allowed examination of the sitting judges through questionnaires.
According to the Supreme Court ruling in the Veeraswami case, the CJI’s permission is a must to examine any sitting judge of the Supreme Court or a high court in a criminal case.
The investigating agency, which took over the probe from the Chandigarh Police last month, had sought the CJI’s permission to question Justice Nirmal Yadav and Justice Nirmaljit Kaur. Justice Yadav is currently on leave while Justice Kaur, the complainant in the case, is discharging her judicial functions.
This is the second case of judicial corruption and misconduct in the recent past in which the CJI has taken a bold decision. Last month, he had recommended initiation of impeachment proceedings against Justice Soumitra Sen of the Calcutta High Court on charges of misappropriation of public money as a court-appointed Receiver.
The cash-at-judge’s-door scam probe was transferred to the CBI by the Chandigarh administration after consulting HC Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, as it was an inter-state matter. A three-judge committee appointed by the CJI is also holding a separate inquiry.
The scam came to light on August 13, when Rs 15 lakh cash was “mistakenly” delivered at Justice Kaur’s residence by former Haryana Additional Advocate General Sanjiv Bansal’s clerk. Justice Kaur lodged a complaint with the police. The next day, a similar sum was delivered at Justice Yadav’s door by property dealer Rajiv Gupta. The police registered a corruption case on August 16.