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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

To prove middleman's link to him, judge changed date of judgment

Vishal Rambani , Hindustan Times   Patiala, November 10, 2013
First Published: 00:42 IST(10/11/2013) | Last Updated: 00:43 IST(10/11/2013)

The secret inquiry by the Punjab and Haryana high court has revealed that on the demand of the accused, former CBI special judge Hemant Gopal had extended the date of judgment in a case by five days to prove that middleman Sushil Kumar Singla was linked to him.

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The judge had changed the date of the verdict from April 15 to 20 to give a clear indication to the accused, who had demanded that middleman Singla prove his links with the judge in order to strike a deal for acquittal. After proving this, the middleman struck the deal on April 17 and 18.

During the course of inquiry, high court registrar (vigilance) Arun Kumar Tyagi concluded that the "the fact that Sushil Kumar Singla got the case adjourned to April 20, as requested by Mangat Rai Bansal, further strengthens the claim of the complainant that judge Hemant Gopal was approachable through Sushil Kumar Singla".

Bansal had asked Singla to prove his proximity to the judge by getting the date of judgment extended, which he did. A perusal of the record showed that the judge extended the date without citing any reason.

The inquiry report says the deal was initiated with Bansal, Parminder Singh and Kulwant Rai, three of the total 28 accused in the CBI case related to paddy embezzlement against the rice millers. The middleman told the accused that the deal would be settled between Rs. 1.20 crore and Rs. 1.35 crore for three acquittals. However, Kulwant Rai and Bansal didn't pay the bribe, while Parminder paid Rs. 40 lakh and was acquitted.
 
During the course of inquiry, Singla had denied having links with the judge. However, after recording his initial statement, the inquiry officer showed him the record of his calls to the judge and the video recording of taking the bribe money that made Singla admit that he visited the judge with the bag of currency notes.

In fact, Singla, on the date of delivery of the money, left his mobile phone in Panchkula to get an alibi. However, to nail him, the inquiry officer later sent a team of high court officials with the driver, who had earlier driven Singla straight to the Patiala house of Hemant Gopal. The team said the driver took them straight to Gopal's house. "Singla had deliberately left his mobile phone at Panchkula to show that on April 18, he didn't go to Patiala," the inquiry officer observed in the report.

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