Cash-for-judge scam: bar association not allowed to argue


Chandigarh : Amid opposition from the counsel of the accused in the cash-for-judge scam, the Punjab and Haryana High Court bar association was Monday not allowed to argue a protest plea filed by it against the Central Bureau of Investigation’s (CBI’s) closure report in the matter.

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The CBI special court judge, Darshan Singh, did not allow the high court bar association representative and senior lawyer Anupam Gupta to argue the case after the counsel for the accused objected to it.

“The Punjab and Haryana High Court bar association has no locus standi to intervene in the present case in any capacity. They are not the aggrieved party, so no protest petition can be filed on their behalf,” said A.S. Chahal, counsel of Ravinder Singh, an accused in this case.

“They are representing a group of likeminded people, only to safeguard their interest. Therefore, their intervention is not permissible under law and we demand an immediate dismissal of their protest petition,” said Chahal.

Chahal also opposed the authority of lawyer Anupam Gupta, who had come to the court Monday to represent the bar association.

“Anupam Gupta had earlier represented the state in this case during initial stages and now he cannot represent a private party. He has no authority to change his place with time,” Chahal contended.

Taking cognizance of this, judge Darshan Singh directed Gupta to submit his reply in the court Feb 17. Gupta was earlier senior standing counsel for the Chandigarh administration.

“I was a public prosecutor in this case only till Aug 26, 2008, but after that this case was transferred to the CBI. My stand is totally legitimate and I can represent the bar association. I will submit my reply in the court,” Gupta told IANS.

The CBI had filed a closure report in the cash-for-judge scam in December 2009. It had sought the cancellation of the case as it did not get sanction to prosecute the main suspects, including judges.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court was hit by the scam after a packet containing Rs.15 lakh (1.5 mn) in cash was delivered Aug 13, 2008, at the Sector 11 residence of newly appointed high court judge Nirmaljit Kaur. She complained to police which registered an FIR.

Police later arrested the (then) Haryana additional advocate general Sanjeev Bansal, a property dealer Rajiv Gupta and Delhi-based hotelier Ravinder Singh in this connection.

Bansal and Gupta told the police that the money was meant for another high court judge, Nirmal Yadav. They claimed that another packet containing Rs.15 lakh (1.5 mn) was separately delivered to Yadav at her Sector 24 official residence later on.

Yadav, who went on leave Aug 22, 2008, after her name figured in the bribery scandal, has now been transferred to the Uttarakhand High Court.

The cash-for-judge scam led to the Supreme Court setting up a probe committee of senior judges and the CBI being separately handed over the case. However, the CBI was later not given permission to prosecute Justice Nirmal Yadav.