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CBI books sitting HC judge for ‘corruption’

December 07, 2019 05:17 AM

COURTESY HT DEC 7
BRIBEry CHARGES Narayan Shukla allegedly accepted bribe to deliver an order in favour of a Lucknow-based medical college
Neeraj Chauhan

neeraj.chauhan@hindustantimes.com

New Delhi : The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has booked Allahabad high court judge Shri Narayan Shukla for allegedly accepting a bribe to deliver an order in favour of a Lucknow-based medical college that had been barred by the government from admitting students in May 2017, putting him in line to become the first sitting judge to be prosecuted in 28 years.

Justice Shukla has been named the prime suspect in the case along with retired Odisha high court judge I M Quddusi, who was earlier arrested in September 2017, and four other individuals in the case.

After registering the latest case in a larger case of alleged judicial corruption, CBI teams on Friday morning raided the residences of Shukla in Lucknow and Quddusi’s in Delhi, and five other locations, and claimed to have recovered incriminating documents related to investments and other financial transactions.

A CBI spokesperson confirmed that a case has been registered against Shukla, Quddusi and the four others and that raids had been conducted on Friday in Delhi, Lucknow and Meerut. Justice Shukla couldn’t be contacted on his mobile phone, which had been switched off.

CBI identified the four as Bhawana Pandey, who allegedly acted as a conduit in the bribery, Bhagwan Prasad Yadav and Palash Yadav of Prasad Education Trust, and alleged middleman Sudhir Giri. Prasad Education Trust, which ran the Lucknow-based medical college, was also named in the CBI’s first information report (FIR).

Officials familiar with the FIR said Shukla, Quddusi and the others had been charged with criminal conspiracy and under sections 7, 8, 12 and 13 (2) and 13 (1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act that deal with accepting bribes and criminal misconduct.

Then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, in the last week of July, gave the CBI permission to register an FIR against Shukla after the agency informed the apex court about irregularities relating Prasad Education Trust.

Justice Shukla, who is on the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court, was divested of all judicial and administrative work and he was barred from entering the court premises after a three-member committee comprising then Madras high court chief justice Indira Banerjee, then Sikkim high court chief justice SK Agnihotri and Madhya Pradesh high court judge PK Jaiswal found him guilty of judicial irregularities in January 2018.

An investigation against SN Shukla was initiated by then CJI Dipak Misra in November 2017 on a complaint by Uttar Pradesh advocate general Raghvendra Singh in September the same year, alleging malpractices against justice Shukla.

In September 2017, the CBI had registered a case against Quddusi for allegedly demanding and accepting bribes from Prasad Education Trust, promising judicial relief in their case related to the college being barred by the government from admitting students. Quddusi was charge-sheeted by CBI in July this year. The court took cognizance of CBI the charge-sheet last month. CBI initiated a preliminary enquiry against justice Shukla in September 2017, around the time first FIR was registered against Quddusi.

Until 1991, sitting judges enjoyed protection against prosecution by government agencies, Supreme Court advocate Anil Mishra said. “In 1991, for the first time in the justice Veeraswamy case, the Supreme Court held that a judge could be prosecuted after seeking permission from the CJI. After the justice Veeraswamy case, this is the first time that a judges is being prosecuted,” said advocate Mishra. Former Madras high court chief justice K Veeraswami was accused of amassing assets disproportionate to his income and was charged with offences under Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the latest CBI FIR, reviewed by HT, Lucknow-based Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences was debarred in May 2017 by the Centre from admitting medical students in the academic years 2017-18 and 2018-19.

The action was taken because the institute had substandard facilities and did not meet other criteria required of a medical college. Forty-six other medical colleges were also debarred on similar grounds. Prasad Education Trust then appealed against the decision in the Supreme Court.

“A conspiracy was hatched among the FIR named accused and the writ petition was withdrawn with the permission of the court. Another writ petition was filed before Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court on August 24, 2017. It was further alleged that the petition was heard on August 25, 2017 by the division bench of the court comprising of Justice SN Shukla and a favourable order was passed on the same day,” the FIR said. “Quddusi and B P Yadav of Prasad Trust met Justice Shri Narayan Shukla in the morning of August 25, 2017 at his residence in Lucknow regarding the matter and delivered illegal gratification,” the FIR said.

Shukla’s order was challenged by the Medical Council of India three days later in the Supreme Court. It was listed before a bench comprising the then CJI, Misra, and two more judges.

Bhawana Pandey, Giri and the Yadavs were named by CBI in the previous case as well.

When contacted, Quddusi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said: “Present FIR is part of the same transaction and under law, a separate FIR cannot be registered

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