New Delhi/Ghaziabad: The Supreme Court
on Tuesday stepped in to ascertain the cause of the mysterious
death in a Ghaziabad jail of Ashutosh Asthana, a key accused
in the multi-crore Provident Fund scam, directing the CBI to
hand over his viscera samples to AIIMS for the purpose.
It also asked the UP government to provide protection to
all the accused and witnesses in the case.
The court`s direction came on a day when authorities in
Dasna jail in Ghaziabad on the outskirts of Delhi began an
inquiry into 43-year-old Asthana`s death on Saturday.
A special bench headed by Justice D K Jain also asked
the UP government to provide adequate protection to all the
accused and witnesses in the case. Asthana`s wife had voiced
apprehensions that she could be the next target.
In a related development, Union Law Minister M Veerappa
Moily said if the UP government wants, it can hand over
investigations of the case (of Asthana`s death) to the CBI.
Asthana, a treasury officer at the Ghaziabad court, was
arrested in April 2008 in connection with the alleged
siphoning off of Rs.23 crore provident fund of class III and
IV employees in which names of a number of 36 judges from
various courts, including one from the Supreme Court, had
The apex court asked the CBI to give Asthana`s viscera`s
samples to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to
ascertain the cause of his death.
"She is a district judge and has already been provided
protection. The state will take all steps to protect her," the
bench said when senior counsel Anil Divan, appearing for the
petitioner Nahar Singh Yadav, sought protection for her and
Anokhi Lal, another accused in the case.
"Naturally, if she makes a request, we are bound to
provide (security). There should be no difficulty," the bench
said when the counsel wondered if Rama Jain would be provided
additional security if she apprehends any further threat.
Both Attorney General G E Vahanvati and UP counsel
Shail Dwivedi assured the court that they would abide by any
order passed by the bench as they were all "very very
concerned" with the latest development.
Asthana, who was a treasury officer at the Ghaziabad
court, was arrested in April 2008 in connection with siphoning
off provident fund of class III and IV employees. During
interrogation, he had named 36 judges of various courts,
including one from the Supreme Court, as alleged beneficiaries
of the scam.
The investigation in the case is being done by CBI
under the directions of the apex court since September 2008 on
the basis of a petition filed by Nahar Singh Yadav, president
of Advocates Welfare Association, Ghaziabad.
Those named in the scam include seven Allahabad High
Court judges, six retired High Court judges and 12 judges of
subordinate judiciary in Uttar Pradesh.