A SENIOR civil judge of Tis Hazari court was arrested by the CBI Thursday on charges of bribery and produced in a special court, which remanded her in 14-day judicial custody.
The CBI has accused sitting Senior Civil Judge Rachna Tiwari Lakhanpal from Tis Hazari courts, her husband Alok Lakhanpal, a practising advocate, and another advocate Vikas Mehan, of allegedly striking a deal in connection with a property case she was adjudicating.
Alok Lakhanpal and Mehan, who was purportedly appointed as Local Commissioner by the accused judge in the property case, were also arrested. Special Judge Sanjeev Aggarwal at Tis Hazari court remanded them in two-day police custody.
The CBI raided the Lakhanpals’ residence at Gulabi Bagh judicial complex in the early hours Thursday and recovered Rs 93.6 lakh, said sources. According to the sources, Rs 60 lakh was recovered from a bedroom and the rest from the children’s room.
CBI spokesperson R K Gaur said, “Searches conducted at the premises of the said judge led to recovery of approximately Rs 94 lakh in cash, two locker keys and other incriminating material and documents.” Gaur added, “A case was registered under section 7 and 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 against the accused on a complaint alleging that in a matter being heard by a Senior Civil Judge (West), Tis Hazari Courts, Delhi, she had appointed an advocate as Local Commissioner for conducting an inspection of the disputed property and submitting his report.”
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The spokesperson said, “The advocate appointed as Local Commissioner allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 2 lakh for himself as well as Rs 20 lakh for the said Senior Civil Judge for deciding the matter in the favour of complainant.”
According to the CBI, after verification of the complaint and compliance with legal procedure, the agency laid a trap in which Mehan was caught red-handed while demanding and accepting Rs 5 Lakh as bribe on behalf of the judge. “The advocate disclosed that the alleged bribe amount was meant to be handed over to the said judge.
Subsequently, the bribe money was delivered by the advocate to the said judge at her residence, out of which the said judge kept Rs 4 lakh and gave Rs 1 lakh to the advocate,” said Gaur. The CBI said the alleged bribe money of Rs 5 lakh had been recovered.
“During investigation, the involvement of the husband of the said judge was found,” said Gaur.
The defence team of the accused comprising advocates Kaushal Kaushik, C Dutta and Sahil Munjal appeared for the accused judge and her husband, whereas advocate Dilip Rana argued on behalf of Mehan. It was argued by the defence lawyers of the Lakhanpals that it was a conspiracy, asserting that accused judge has had a clean track record. Her lawyers also moved a bail application, which is likely to be heard on October 3.
While remanding Alok Lakhanpal and Mehan in police custody, the court observed, “In the facts and circumstances, source of huge recovery or Rs 94 lakh is yet to be established and that the investigations are at a very nascent stage.”
The CBI, seeking the custody of the accused judge, stated, “The investigation is at an initial stage and she may influence witnesses and tamper with the evidence.”
Profile of judge
Rachna Tiwari Lakhanpal graduated in Law in 1999 from Delhi University, a source told The Indian Express. She was a topper in her class and was appointed a judicial officer in 2001, after practising as a lawyer for two years. She was appointed as a Rent Controller at Rohini Courts in 2003, said the source. Later, she was appointed as a Metropolitan Magistrate and she presided over the women’s court at Rohini till 2011. She was appointed as an additional civil judge at Tis Hazari Courts in 2014 and later elevated to the senior civil judge position, the source added.