Judicial probe sought in Ghaziabad PF scam
The Supreme Court on Monday requested the Solicitor General to advise it on a petition seeking a judicial probe into the multi-crore provident fund scam in Ghaziabad, allegedly involving 26 sitting judges from the Allahabad High Court and serving as well as retired judges of the apex court.
The petition, filed by former president of the local lawyers' body in Ghaziabad, had originally prayed for a CBI inquiry into the scam. Currently, the Ghaziabad Police are investigating the matter. However, when senior advocate Fali S. Nariman appeared in the court on behalf of the petitioner, he urged for a judicial probe. He said the investigation should be kept away from public gaze so that selective reports are not leaked to the media. Nariman further added it was not possible for either the local police or the CBI to investigate the case as it involved sitting judges.
Nariman, who submitted the names of the judicial officials allegedly involved in the scam in a sealed cover for the perusal of the Bench, said the allegations are "scandalous" as the main accused in his statement before the court had named people who are holding important positions in the judiciary.
"Can a police official or CBI interrogate these people (holding high position)? For fair name of the judiciary, a sitting or retired judge of the Supreme Court would be an appropriate person to probe the matter," the senior advocate submitted.
The petition is related to an FIR registered in connection with the scam involving deposit and withdrawal of crores of rupees from the provident fund accounts of third and fourth-grade employees in Ghaziabad region between 2001 and 2008. Earlier, the Allahabad High Court had refused a CBI investigation into the scam, allegedly involving Rs 23 crore.
The petition said that the scam came to light after some employees lodged a complaint with the then Vigilance Officer and Special CBI Judge Ghaziabad, Rama Jain, in February this year. The FIR was registered against Ashutosh Asthana, the then Central Nazir (court staff) in Ghaziabad and 82 others.