UP PF scam: SC criticises Ghaziabad DJ

Ghaziabad District Judge, whose alleged interference in the trial of UP Provident Fund scam has come under judicial scrutiny, was today questioned by the Supreme Court for filing a technically faulty affidavit in the case.

Last Updated: Sep 09, 2010, 00:56 AM IST

New Delhi: The Ghaziabad District Judge,
whose alleged interference in the trial of Uttar Pradesh
Provident Fund scam has come under judicial scrutiny, was
today questioned by the Supreme Court for filing a technically
faulty affidavit in the case.

The technical fault was evident in "the very cleverly
drafted affidavit," a special Bench comprising Justices D K
Jain, S V Sirpurkar and G S Singhvi said while pointing out
the fault in the affidavit filed by District Judge Vishnu
Chandra Gupta.

"In such a serious case, the affidavit has been filed
like this," the Bench said and asked Gupta`s counsel to submit
it by making corrections.

The apex court had on August 4 sought an explanation from
Gupta for allegedly interfering in the trial in the over Rs
20-crore scam case in which names of judges, including one
from the apex court, surfaced.

The apex court had taken a serious note of the allegation
that the District Judge was causing hindrance to CBI in
prosecuting the case.

However, Gupta denied all allegations levelled by CBI in
its affidavit and that he had on July 26 asked the district
government counsel (DGC) of the local police to take back the
CDs relating to the scam from the agency.

The District Judge also maintained that he did not ask
the DGC to argue the matter as they had filed the main
chargesheet in the case and participate in the conduct of
the trial along with the investigating agency as alleged by
CBI.

However, when oral submission on his behalf was made by
senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi and Ashok Kumar Srivastava,
Attorney General G E Vahanvati opposed and said the
clarification by the District Judge in his affidavit was not
true.

"The fact is that he called CBI prosecutor into his
chamber," the Attorney General said and referred to the
affidavit filed by Gupta in which he denied asking for the
case diary and telling the state police to take over the case.

Vahanvati was supported by advocate Prashant Bhushan,
appearing for an NGO, which is one of the petitioners in the
case, who said the affidavit filed by the Vigilance Officer
(Additional District and Sessions Judge) Shyam Lal makes it
clear about the true fact.

He said the Vigilance Officer in his affidavit has stated
that the District Judge had called for the case diary.

Bhushan said the judge has taken an "unusual interest"
in the case, which was refuted by Rohatgi.

His plea that the status report and affidavits in the
case be made public was not entertained by the Bench which
said "it will have some other consequences also". Denying the CBI`s allegation, Gupta said he had called
the agency`s prosecutor to verify some documents relating to
Sushma Asthana, wife of the Ashutosh Asthana, the main accused
in the case who died in judicial custody, and about another
accused Tara Chand.

In his affidavit, the Distrcit Judge maintained that he
enquired from the Vigilance officer about the documents,
including the case diary, which formed the basis for
investigation by the state police and for filing the
chargesheet by CBI.

"Such documents on the basis of which prosecution
sanction was required and case diary was also needed for
according sanction in the matter," he said adding the
Vigilance Officer had contacted him on July 26 in his chamber
for guidance in the case.

During the last hearing, the Bench had questioned the
conduct of the District Judge saying "it is the direct
interference in the course of justice as it is monitored by
us".

The Bench had issued notices to the 70 accused on the
plea by CBI for shifting the trial in the case outside Uttar
Pradesh, preferably to Delhi, by the agency.

A senior advocate, appearing for one of the accused,
said he will oppose the shifting of the trial and would like
to file a response to CBI plea.

However, the Bench asked him to make oral submission on
the next date of hearing on October 21.

CBI had filed staturs report on July 28 in a sealed cover
and had said there was "no evidence" against 17 judges and
there was lack of sufficient evidence to prosecute the
remaining 24 judicial officers in the case.

In the status report, CBI has reportedly said that the
apex court judge Justice Tarun Chatterjee (since retired)
is among the 24 judicial officers against whom there is "no
prosecutable" evidence.

The chargesheet, filed by CBI, has also named six retired
district judges, out of whom three -- Ravindra Kumar Mishra,
Ajay Kumar Singh and Radhey Shyam Chaubey --were elevated to
the Allahabad High Court.

The other three judges were Ram Prasad Mishra, R P
Yadav and Arun Kumar.

CBI had submitted trial in the case should be shifted out
as the there are 25 class III and IV employees of Ghaziabad
District Court who are crucial witnesses and are likely to be
influenced.

Five accused, who have been declared as absconder in
the case, were Jaya Asthana, Arun Kumar Mishra, Radhey Shyam
(both class III employees of Ghaziabad Court) and Sharwan
Kumar and Lokesh Kumar Sharma (both class IV employee of
Ghaziabad Court).

-PTI