Ex-judge Quddusi, associate spoke using code words: CBI
In its charge sheet, exclusively accessed by HT, CBI has attached 80 telephone intercepts of Quddusi and other accused which, the agency says, reveals the whole conspiracy.
Retired Odisha High Court judge IM Quddusi, who was arrested in September 2017 in a judicial corruption scandal, and his associates used code words such as ped (plant), gamla (pot), samaan (goods) and prasad (offering) while referring to bribes allegedly to be paid to a certain “captain” to get favourable order from the Supreme Court, according to a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) charge sheet in the case.
The agency filed a charge sheet in the case in July last year naming Quddusi; an Odisha-based middleman, Biswanath Agarwala, who allegedly claimed to have high contacts in the judiciary; and five others — Bhawna Pandey, Sudhir Giri, Ram Dev Saraswat, and owners and officer-bearers of Prasad Educational Trust, BP Yadav and Palash Yadav.
The Yadavs wanted relief from the judiciary after being barred by the Medical Council of India from admitting students to their college, the Lucknow-based Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences, in the academic years 2017-18 and 2018-19 for alleged irregularities. The charge sheet has not been made public until now.
A Delhi court took cognisance of the charge sheet in November last year. In December, CBI also filed a fresh case in connection with the scandal, naming sitting Allahabad high court judge Shri Narayan Shukla for allegedly accepting a bribe to deliver an order in favour of Prasad Medical College.
In 2018, then Chief Justice of India, Dipak Mishra, asked Justice Shukla to either resign or seek voluntary retirement. After Justice Shukla refused, the CJI asked the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court not to assign him any judicial work.
In its charge sheet, exclusively accessed by HT, CBI has attached 80 telephone intercepts of Quddusi and other accused which, the agency says, reveals the whole conspiracy. It says Giri, BP Yadav and Agarwala met Quddusi at the latter’s residence on August 23, 2017. Two days later, the Allahabad HC division bench comprising Shri Narayan Shukla passed an interim order directing that the college shall not be delisted till next hearing.
MCI approached the top court against the Allahabad HC order. BP Yadav, Quddusi and Pandey then claimed they could get a favourable order. “Quddusi and Pandey assured BP Yadav that his work at apex court will be done,” the charge sheet states.
Quddusi discussed the bribe amount with Agarwala and it was fixed at ~3 crore after negotiations, according to the charge sheet, with ~2.5 crore going to the “captain”. At one point, Agarwala tells Quddusi: “….abhi jo hamara captain hai na, unka all over India hai, job hi kaam ho karne k elite tayyar hai (Our captain right now has influence all over India and he can get anything done).”
The charge sheet says: “Quddusi and Agarwala were referring to amounts of money as different items such as ‘gamla’, ‘ped’, etc.”
According to the charge sheet, Quddusi was acting for the Yadavs and it was Agarwala who was trying to get a favourable order from the Supreme Court.
In one conversation, Agarwala informs BP Yadav that the government of the “chaiwala” (referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has made no secret of his humble beginnings) is keeping an eye on everyone and the captain will therefore not meet anyone. “The the work will be done not just 100% but 500% but problem is that first money has to be paid,” Agarwala tells Yadav. He further adds that his man can get any work done for the following 14-15 months.
Quddusi’s lawyer, Vijay Aggarwal, said: “CBI has realised that this charge sheet is baseless and would not stand in court as there is no public servant involved. That is why they have registered another FIR. However, they have not realised that registration of another FIR on the same incident will damage both their cases. Para 16.2.45 of the charge sheet clearly states that forensic reports are yet to be received. So trial is not likely to start in near future”. His reference is to the forensic report on the phone taps.
The others named in the charge sheet could not be reached for comment.