Denying all charges of corruption, Ravinder Singh, the Delhi-based hotelier who is an accused in the 2008 cash-for-judge scam, said the Rs. 15 lakh at the centre of the scam was actually sent by him to his "friend" (since-retired) justice Nirmal Yadav for purchase of land in Solan, Himachal Pradesh.
According to the CBI, the money was meant to sway a case. The alleged scandal came to fore on August 13, 2008, after the Rs. 15 lakh was delivered to Yadav's then fellow judge at the Punjab and Haryana high court, Nirmaljit Kaur, who called the cops. In the case registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act, besides justice Yadav and Ravinder, the accused include Sanjiv Bansal, former additional advocate general of Haryana; Rajiv Gupta, a Chandigarh-based businessman; and one Nirmal Singh. At present, a special CBI court is hearing arguments over framing of charges in the case.
On Tuesday, Ravinder, who admitted to "close proximity" with justice Yadav, told the court through his lawyer that he had indeed sent the money to Yadav but only because they were co-owners of the land. "Buying property is the right of every citizen. Justice Yadav and Ravinder along with other co-purchasers had brought the property; who is the CBI to question it? It is part of record that the money was part of share for the Solan land deal," submitted advocate AS Chahal, counsel for Ravinder.
He added, "Even the ethics laid down for the higher judiciary say that a judge can accept gifts from blood relations, family and friends. The money was sent to her [by Ravinder] as her friend; then where is the question of bribe?"
The CBI had alleged that Yadav had been seeking regular favours from Ravinder and was even using a mobile phone that was in Ravinder's name and he was paying the bills of the connection. Further, the agency has claimed that friendship between Yadav and Ravinder dates back to 2000, and submitted that "Ravinder Singh is [an] inseparable part of the personal as well as judicial world of justice Yadav".
While Ravinder acknowledged the friendship, he turned it into his defence on Tuesday.