The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told a Chandigarh trial court on December 24 that it wanted to close the case it was investigating against Justice Nirmal Yadav of the Punjab and Haryana High Court not because it was convinced of her innocence, but because the government and the Chief Justice of India refused to grant it sanction to prosecute her.
A top CBI officer told Hindustan Times that on the contrary, they wanted to register a separate FIR as well against Justice Yadav on charges of forgery and abuse of official position while buying land in Himachal Pradesh. But they could not pursue it in the absence of permission to do so.
The case the CBI was probing related to a sum of Rs 15 lakh in cash that was mysteriously delivered at the Chandigarh residence of another Punjab and Haryana High Court judge, Nirmaljit Kaur, on August 13, 2008.
Justice Kaur informed the local police and handed over the money, claiming she had no idea what it was for.
In end August, the CBI was handed over the case and asked to investigate whether the money was actually intended for Justice Yadav, but had been mistakenly sent to Justice Nirmaljit Kaur, because of the similarity in their names.
“We not only found evidence to prosecute Justice Yadav in the Rs 15 lakh cash case, but also stumbled upon evidence on alleged forgery and abuse of official position by Justice Yadav in land purchase in Solan, which could have been the basis of another case against her,” said the CBI officer.
Since official sanction is needed to prosecute a sitting HC judge, the CBI applied for it to the Union Ministry of Personnel.
On December 7, however, the agency received a reply — which it cited in its report seeking closure of the case — saying no action was required against Justice Yadav as there was no evidence against her.
Similarly, the CBI has yet not received the CJI's permission to register an FIR relating to the land purchase in Solan, Himachal Pradesh.
When Hindustan Times sought the CBI’s official response through a Right to Information (RTI) application on November 30, the CBI denied the information. Similarly the CJI’s office did not respond to the HT’s queries, after a questionnaire was faxed to it.
Justice Nirmal Yadav has persistently denied all allegations. But she too, despite several attempts by HT, refused to respond to any questions.
In the Himachal land purchase case, the CBI, during its investigations found that some of the documents, including residential certificates submitted to the Himachal Pradesh government for the purchase of 11.1 bighas (about 9,282 sq metres) in Solan by Justice Yadav and 17 others were allegedly forged, a CBI officer informed HT.
Outsiders are not permitted to buy more than 500 sq meters of land in Himachal. To purchase more, proof of domicile has to be submitted for a sale deed to be registered.
The CBI found that the signatures of a number of co-purchasers in this case had been forged.
Even signatures and residential addresses of Delhi hotelier Ravinder Singh, the prime accused in the cash-for-judge case, and two Mumbai-based friends of Justice Yadav’s son had also been forged while purchasing the land, the officer added.