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Not first time for judge in dock

india Updated: Jun 05, 2009 01:33 IST
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Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, whose name figures in the top-secret vigilance reports of Punjab government about alleged malpractices in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, had come in for a lot of flak from his then boss, Chief Justice Arun B. Saharya, in a different case.

“The judge has the habit of flaunting his official position and the tendency to interfere in affairs of local administration and in judicial matters also,” Saharya said in a report sent to then chief justice of India B N Kirpal on August 24, 2002.

This report earned Justice Gill a reprimand from the chief justice of India.

Saharya had launched a “discreet inquiry” into newspaper reports about some of his judges in connection with the arrest of then chairman of the Punjab Public Services Commission, Ravinder Pal Singh, for selling government jobs. (See box for judges under a scanner)

In a 41-page report, a copy of which is with HT Justice Saharya wrote: “The Judge, perhaps, perplexed by the fast moving and unexpected events on getting scent of some of the material gathered about his close connection with Ravi Sidhu, started misrepresenting the personal discussion, twisting facts and distorting the contents and tenor of even written communication... He tried to resile from the indefensible stand that he did not know accused Sidhu. The falsehood had to be nailed and further correspondence on the subject shut out by my letter dated July 12, 2002.”

“The insinuation that two candidates were selected in PCS (Executive Branch) on the 'sifarish' of Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, that the judge had assured the accused of effective help when Ravi Sidhu had discussed with him the need for judicial relief; and the newspaper reports casting aspersions that investigation was being misdirected to cover up his involvement in the recruitment racket, cannot be easily brushed aside."

Justice Gill couldn’t be contacted despite repeated attempts for the second day running. Several phones calls were made to both his office and home, and several messages were left giving the reason why a comment was needed from him.
In a report carried by Hindustan Times on Thursday, Justice Gill figured in taped conversations between two private persons. But no direct connections were made between the judge and the alleged judicial malpractices discussed by the two persons under surveillance.

Punjab’s vigilance department taped these conversations in April 2008. It made a report of the findings and sent a copy to then chief justice Vijender K Jain, who passed in on to chief justice of India K G Balakrishnan, recommending Gill’s transfer.

Justice Gill remains with the Punjab and Haryana High Court.