A Madras High Court judge's stunning declaration that a union minister had asked him to give bail to a father-son duo accused of forging marksheets prompted the BJP to demand on Tuesday that the prime minister probe the matter and sack the as yet unnamed ministerial colleague.
Madras High Court Judge R Reghupathi said in court on Monday that a union minister asked him to give bail to two men - a medical student and his doctor father - accused by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of forging marksheets.
Said Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad: "In Indian history, it has happened for the first time that a sitting judge of the high court has accused a central minister of calling him to request anticipatory bail to the accused."
Labelling it a "very serious matter", Prasad told reporters in New Delhi: "A high court judge has accused a cabinet minister. The Madras High Court judge has said if the minister does not apologise, his name would be taken in the proceedings."
"So, we demand and expect that the prime minister would look into the matter at his own level and sack the minister."
Responding to the controversy, union Law Minister Veerappa Moily said: "First we cannot talk like this. Secondly, we cannot talk to the judge that what has happened. These are the limitations. Judiciary works on its own parameters and we cannot make any queries on judges' remark."
The judge was hearing the anticipatory bail petition of S Kiruba Shridhar, a third-year MBBS student in a private medical college of Puducherry, and his father C Krishnamurthy.
Reghupathi did not name the minister but threatened to complain to the central government and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the interference.
He transferred the case to Chief Justice HL Gokhale and said he would incorporate the details in his order unless an unconditional apology was tendered.
Shridhar, who had been failing in his exams for two years, joined hands with his father and allegedly replaced his answersheet to get extra marks in the subject. Later, he and his father were found by the CBI to be involved in the forging marksheets case.