A special CBI court on Saturday finally framed corruption charges against former Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge, Justice (retd) Nirmal Yadav, and four more accused in the infamous cash-at-judge’s-door scam.
Paving the way for a trial, special CBI Judge Vimal Kumar brought charges under Section 11 of the Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act against Yadav while the four other accused will stand trial for criminal conspiracy and allegedly fabricating false statements.
Justice (retd) Yadav refused to comment on the development. She becomes the second High Court judge to face trial for corruption after Justice (retd) Shamit Mukherjee of the Delhi High Court whose trial is under way.
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The four others in the case are Delhi businessman Ravinder Singh, a close friend of Justice Yadav; advocate Sanjiv Bansal; Rajiv Gupta and Nirmal Singh. They also face charges of offering a bribe to the then High Court judge.
Finding “overwhelming” evidence against the accused, the special CBI court had, on July 31 last year, decided to frame charges. The trial, however, had come to a virtual standstill when the High Court, on a revision petition filed by Yadav, had summoned the entire record.
In a curious turn of events, the High Court, on the administrative side, returned the original record on October 31 last year. paving the way for a trial. Yadav then moved the High Court seeking a stay on proceedings, which was rejected on November 22 and upheld by the Supreme Court on January 3 this year.
The infamous cash-at-judge’s-door scam had come to light on August 13, 2008, when Rs 15 lakh was found outside the residence of another High Court judge, Justice Nirmaljit Kaur, who called the police. The CBI has stated that the money was meant Yadav in lieu of a judgment favouring a client of advocate Sanjiv Bansal. The case pertained to a disputed plot in Panchkula.
How the case unfolded
August 13, 2008: Rs 15 lakh discovered outside the residence of Justice Nirmaljit Kaur. She calls the Chandigarh Police.
August 14, 2008: Another packet of Rs 15 lakh is allegedly delivered to Justice Yadav at her residence (in the morning) by Sanjiv Bansal’s business partner and friend Rajiv Gupta.
August 16, 2008: Chandigarh Police registers FIR.
August 26, 2008: Then UT Administrator General S F Rodrigues hands the probe over to the CBI.
September 4, 2008: Then CJI grants CBI permission to probe.
December 17, 2009: CBI files closure report citing want of prosecution sanction as the reason.
March 26, 2010: CBI Court refuses to accept closure report; directs CBI to re-investigate.
June 16, 2010: CBI requests then Chief Justice to grant sanction to prosecute Yadav.
July 28, 2010: Then CJI S H Kapadia grants sanction to prosecute Justice Yadav (then a sitting HC Judge)
March 3: 2011: Day before she retires as a Judge of Uttarakhand HC, CBI chargesheets Yadav in the scam. Becomes the first sitting High Court Judge in the country to be chargesheeted in a corruption case.
July 31, 2013: Special CBI Judge Vimal Kumar decides to frame charges against Yadav and four other accused.
September 31, 2013: Punjab and Haryana High Court summons trial record. Admits Yadav’s petition challenging framing of charges.
October 31, 2013: In an order passed on the administrative side, HC returns original record, decides to keep a photocopy.
November 22, 2013: High Court dismisses Yadav’s application seeking stay on trial.