The move of appointing tainted judge Hemant Gopal as the special CBI court judge at Patiala has come under the scanner as a prior annual confidential report (ACR) had raised doubts over his integrity.
Despite that Gopal was given the important posting in March this year. Gopal was later placed under suspension after former MLA Mangat Rai Bansal submitted a video in which his middleman was shown accepting bribe from an accused in a paddy scam for securing acquittal. An internal high court inquiry had prima facie found Gopal guilty.
Gopal’s ACR for the year 2012-13, as confirmed by well-placed sources in the high court, reads, “Bar and litigants orally as well as in writing complained that he compels the accused who have good case for acquittal to oblige him. His integrity needs to be watched.”
One of the Punjab and Haryana high court judges had recorded the ACR in his capacity as the inspecting judge of Muktsar district, where Gopal was posted from April 2011 to March 2013.
The final remarks in the ACR read, “His work and conduct should be kept under observation. especially with reference to his integrity.” His overall grading was “B-satisfactory”.
Despite the adverse comments in the ACR for the year 2012-13, he was posted as the special CBI judge at Patiala. A secret inquiry by the high court has already brought the judgment-for-favour fact on record.
The secret report circulated to the full court says the judge was in touch with middleman Sushil Singla, who after accepting the bribe from the accused visited the judge’s house at Patiala.
Bansal was also one of the accused, but he was convicted as he didn’t pay the bribe and chose to film the bribe exchanging hands for securing acquittal of another accused Parminder Singh.
“All these facts and circumstances point to the involvement of Hemant Gopal and prove that he passed judgment of acquittal in favour of Parminder Singh for extraneous consideration,” says the report, adding, “Sushil Singla (the middleman) entered the CBI judge’s house with a bag containing the money but came out without it, which shows it was handed over to Hemant Gopal.”