By: Sanjeev Verma
As many as 1,029 high court advocates Monday sent a letter to President Pranab Mukherjee seeking the transfer and impeachment of Justice Hemant Gupta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The letter has also been sent to the Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India, Union Law Minister, Acting Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and director of Enforcement Directorate, New Delhi.
“In view of the news item (HC judge called me about probe into firm linked to his wife: Enforcement officer) published in The Indian Express dated April 25, 2015, highlighting the impropriety of Hon’ble Justice Hemant Gupta for trying to interfere in the ED investigation against his wife, the need of the hour demands his transfer. Caesar’s wife may not be, but at least, Caesar must be above suspicion,” reads the letter.
The Indian Express had reported that Justice Gupta allegedly called up a senior ED officer, who is the investigator in an alleged money laundering case in which the role of the judge’s wife could be looked at.
The advocates also raised the question whether public interest would be protected by a mere transfer. “It is pertinent to state that one such case of impeachment can re-establish and strengthen the confidence in the administration of justice and restore the confidence in democracy,” reads the letter.
The advocates also sought removal of Assistant Solicitor General of India Chetan Mittal, alleging that since the ED is probing a money laundering case against his elder brother Mukesh Mittal, who is also an advocate, he is likely to influence the investigation being conducted by ED officials.
The Indian Express had reported that as per the ED’s official communication, its assistant director at Chandigarh, Gopesh Byadwal, had received a call from Justice Gupta on March 16 which was made from the mobile of his secretary Dalbir Singh. The judge allegedly asked the ED officer about the ongoing inquiries into the company, RMC Printers Pvt Ltd, where Justice Gupta’s wife Alka Gupta was a director until June 27, 2009.
When contacted, Justice Gupta had said he had no comment to make on whether he made a phone call to the ED officer. On his wife’s role in RMC Printers Pvt Ltd, Justice Gupta had said, “Yes, she was a director. I don’t know when she resigned.”
Chetan Mittal, when contacted, said, “It is perverse and obnoxious to imagine that I, in the capacity of Assistant Solicitor General, will be able to influence the ongoing investigation of a case involving my brother with whom I have no connection.”