Thursday, October 28, 2010

Supreme Court reserves verdict on CBI plea to shift PF scam trial

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved verdict on the application filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation for transfer of the trial of the multicrore Provident Fund scam case from the CBI court, Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, to a CBI court in Delhi.

In the 2001-08 scam, in which judges were named, crores were fraudulently withdrawn from the PF accounts of classes III and IV employees.

A Bench of Justices D.K. Jain, V.S. Sirpurkar and G.S. Singhvi discharged Ghaziabad District Judge Vishnu Chandra Gupta, expressing satisfaction with his explanation that he did not in anyway interfere in the trial. Earlier, Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati, appearing for the CBI, said the case should be shifted outside the State to ensure a free and fair trial. Certain disturbing incidents had occurred in the Ghaziabad court. Six of the judicial officers, three of whom who became High Court judges, figured in the scam. Though they had since retired, they could still influence witnesses. Prashant Bhushan, counsel for some of the petitioners, supported the Attorney-General and said that since the Uttar Pradesh police had expressed difficulty in conducting the investigation and entrusted the probe to the CBI, the case should be shifted. As many judicial officers and retired High Court judges were involved, it would not be fair to have the trial in the Ghaziabad court.

Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Mr. Gupta, said the CBI allegations were baseless and were made by an officer who was not present in the meeting with the judge, which was said to have been the cause for seeking the transfer of the case. As a judge who was in charge of administration, Mr. Gupta only sought certain information and he never interfered with the proceedings.

Opposing the transfer, counsel for the accused said that as most of them had retired, it would result in hardship and financial difficulties for them. They were resident in and around Lucknow and other places. Further, as many of the classes III and IV employees were still in jail and fighting the case, it would not be proper to shift the trial outside the State.

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