THE Enforcement Directorate has registered a case of money laundering against former Orissa High Court judge I M Quddusi and five others for allegedly trying to influence court proceedings over an application to grant admission rights to a Lucknow-based medical college barred by the Medical Council of India (MCI).
The ED case is based on a CBI FIR in the matter which had set off a judicial storm in the apex court last week. The agency had arrested Quddusi and five others on September 20 and also searched their premises. Sources in CBI and ED said that investigations have revealed that Quddusi and his associates had demanded Rs 3 crore from the medical college, Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences, to get a favourable judicial order.
“It was their going rate. They have similarly taken money from other people to get them favourable orders in courts. How this was being done is a matter of investigation,” an official privy to probe details said. There are over 80 phone intercepts with CBI and ED where the accused are allegedly heard talking about the conspiracy. The CBI has already obtained voice samples of Quddusi to match those found in the intercepts.
The CBI has recovered Rs 1.86 crore cash and documents from the accused, which are being scrutinised, sources said. It is currently recording statements of various witnesses, sources added. Notably, ED has powers to attach properties belonging to the accused of the value of alleged money laundering involved in the alleged offence. Sources said such proceedings will be initiated once the probe progresses further.
All six accused are out on bail. The CBI questioned Quddusi twice after he secured bail. It told the court recently that Quddusi allegedly got “one instalment of gratification from accused B P Yadav”. Seeking further custody of the two, the CBI had said, “Their role is required to be interrogated (to know) how the amount of gratification was paid, by whom, and what was the way of transaction.”
Sources said phone intercepts of conversations regarding Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences, one of 46 medical institutions barred due to poor infrastructure, prompted the CBI to arrest Quddusi, who had served in High Courts of Allahabad, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. The five others arrested were B P Yadav and Palash Yadav, promoters of the medical college; alleged middleman Biswanath Agrawal; alleged hawala operator Ram Dev Saraswat; and Bhawana Pandey, Quddusi’s alleged associate.
Quddusi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal refused to comment on the fresh developments and the allegations made against the former judge. The CBI FIR alleged that promoters of the Lucknow medical college, barred from admitting students for two years, had approached Quddusi, who allegedly promised relief in exchange for bribes to influential people.
The college challenged the government order in Supreme Court. The court, the FIR said, directed the government on August 1 to consider afresh the material on record. The government heard the matter and barred the college from admitting students for 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic sessions. It also authorised MCI to cash the college’s bank guarantee of Rs 2 crore.
The college promoters moved the Supreme Court and at the same time also allegedly got in touch with Quddusi and Bhawana Pandey who, the FIR says, promised to get the matter settled. According to CBI, Quddusi advised the promoters to withdraw the petition in SC and file a petition in Allahabad HC. The promoters moved the HC on August 25.
In an interim relief, HC ordered that the college “shall not be delisted from the list of colleges notified for counselling till the next date of listing i.e. August 21, 2017”, the FIR says. The court also stayed MCI from cashing the bank guarantee until the next hearing.
The MCI moved SC against this. The apex court disposed of the matter on August 29, with the college submitting that it “does not claim any benefit from the order passed by HC”. At this point, according to CBI, Quddusi and Pandey “assured to get the matter settled” through their contacts.