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Delhi too costly for accused judges

Six former judges accused in the Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam,three of whom had retired from the Allahabad High Court

Written by Krishnadas Rajagopal | New Delhi |
October 29, 2010 5:08:39 am

Six former judges accused in the Ghaziabad Provident Fund scam,three of whom had retired from the Allahabad High Court,opposed the CBI’s push to transfer its trial to Delhi on Thursday with a singular argument that “lawyers in Delhi are too expensive”.

“Lawyers in Delhi wear expensive robes,” said RN Mishra,one of the six,while objecting to the agency’s move in the Supreme Court. The court reserved its final orders on the transfer plea.

Besides Mishra,the judges in question are R P Mishra,R P Yadav,A K Singh,R S Chaubey and Arun Kumar — all former district judges of the Ghaziabad District Court. They are facing trial for allegedly conspiring to fraudulently withdraw Rs 6.58 crore from the provident funds of their own class IV staffers at the district court.

The CBI chargesheet alleged that the judges used the scam money to procure “valuable things/services in the form of monthly ration,fruits,vegetables,sweets,jewellery,sarees,computers,televisions,refrigerators,washing machines,mobiles,crockery,taxi service,photo/video coverage of private functions and furniture”.

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Echoing Mishra’s concerns in court,Chaubey also retorted by stating that his pension is “too meagre for expensive Delhi lawyers”. Their anxiety,however,evoked a tongue-in-cheek response from Justice DK Jain,leading the three-judge Special Bench,who said: “Now,we can neither admit nor deny that,can we?”

“It’s not that superstars are going to trial. They can bring their own lawyers or have a common lawyer,” Attorney General GE Vahanvati,who was representating the CBI,remarked in response.

The AG told the Bench that their supposed complaints about ill-health and finding a decent place to stay in an “expensive city like Delhi” hardly match the need to hold the trial in a “neutral venue”.

“Every consideration should be taken to conduct the trial in a fair manner. This is a case,the first of its kind,in which judges are being tried and judges are witnesses,” Vahanvati submitted,adding,“I do not want to use the sensational language of a PIL lawyer,but let me say,here is a case where justice should not only be done,but also seen to be done. Today,your Lordships’ primary concern should be for the purity of the judicial administration.”

He said the CBI cannot bring itself to overlook the fear that a trial in Uttar Pradesh may witness “diversions against the paramount interest of justice”.

“Any judge trying the case would have,at some point,worked under the accused,” he pointed out. Besides this,the AG said that Delhi is “hardly 20 km” from Ghaziabad,where the trial is currently being held in a Special (CBI) court.

Responding to the CBI’s insinuation that a trial judge could be influenced,the accused judges said that such an act would go against their “moral fibre”. However,the Bench made it clear that it was not concerned with “moral fibre” but “normal possibilities” for ensuring a fair trial.

The judges figure among a total of 70 accused named in the case,and 13 judicial officers have been listed as witnesses. The chargesheet involves offences under 120-B (criminal conspiracy),cheating and forgery and Prevention of Corruption Act.

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First published on: 29-10-2010 at 05:08:39 am
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