The Supreme Court on Tuesday gave a green signal to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to take over the investigation of Uttar Pradesh (UP) Provident Fund (PF) scam case involving 35 sitting judges including an apex court judge.
The court also ordered preservation of existing case records and also of the documents that are likely to be recovered during the CBI probe. As per the order, the record shall be micro-filmed and deposited with the Supreme Court, a copy of which shall be retained by the CBI and also given to the UP Police.
Even as a special bench headed by Justice Arijit Passayat ordered transfer of the case, it did not clarify in its written order whether CBI was empowered to question the retired judges who do not enjoy “protection” from prosecution akin to sitting judges.
But, on a clarification sought by petitioner’s counsel, senior advocate Anil Diwan, Justice Passayat said orally that if CBI wanted they could question the retired judges.
Justice Passayat justified not making the direction a part of his order. He said: “At present, none of the judges have been made an accused. The parameters change once they are made an accused.”
When Diwan further asked if the CBI was empowered to question the retired judicial officers, Justice Passayat replied:
“Of course, if they want they can investigate and question them. But, one should not forget that right now the allegations are on the basis of a statement recorded on oath, under Section 164 of Criminal Procedure Code. So, we do not want to say anything regarding the parameters if the officers become accused.”
Directing CBI to file a status report before it within three months, the bench clarified that framing a time schedule would not be construed as a bar on the agency to file its chargesheet against the 79 accused who have already been named in the FIR. It can file the final report even before submitting a status report to the SC.