PF scam-tainted judges forgiven?
Three high court judges who were transferred last year after they were allegedly named in a list of beneficiaries of a multi-crore Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam of 2008 are likely to return to their old jobs.
The panel of five senior-most judges in the country (Supreme Court collegium) is learnt to have recommended the transfer of Justice Sushil Harkauli and Justice Tarun Agarwal back to the Allahabad High Court, and of Justice JCS Rawat to the Uttarakhand High Court.
The move comes barely a fortnight before the Chief Justice of India (CJI), KG Balakrishnan, retires on May 12. It was the CJI who had publicly stated in December 2008 that judges whose names figured in the PF scam would be transferred.
“We will deal with the errant judges. Many transfers will be effected. Every step will be taken to rid the judiciary of corrupt elements,” Balakrishnan had said in December 2008.
Harkauli and Rawat were transferred to the Jharkhand High Court in July and October last year respectively. Agarwal was sent to the Uttarakhand High Court in September. The judges were among the 36 high court and district level judges named in his confessional statement by the main accused-turned-approver, Ashutosh Asthana before a magistrate. They were understood to have been questioned by the CBI.
The SC had ordered a CBI probe in Sep 2008 following a petition by the Ghaziabad Bar Association and Transparency International India. The CBI’s final report is expected to be submitted to the top court soon.
In a major blow to the entire case, Asthana died in the Ghaziabad district jail under mysterious circumstances in October last year.
The only casualty in the scam, which rocked the country’s higher judiciary, was an additional judge of the Allahabad High Court, Justice AK Singh. Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily declined to comment on the issue. “I’m not aware of the details,” he said.