In a first, Chief Justice of India (CJI), Ranjan Gogoi has given permission to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to file a corruption case against a sitting Allahabad High Court judge, Justice SN Shukla. The case will be filed under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA).
Justice Shukla was found guilty, by an in-house panel constituted by former CJI India Dipak Misra, of giving favors to a private medical college by extending deadline for MBBS admission of students in 2017.
This is for the first time that a sitting judge will be investigated by the top investigating agency. The development comes after the CBI wrote a letter to the Chief Justice for permission to investigate the High Court judge, reported TOI.
According to the TOI, the CBI director in his letter to CJI said, "Aforementioned preliminary enquiry (PE) was registered by the CBI against Justice Sri Narayan Shukla of the high court of Allahabad, Lucknow bench, Uttar Pradesh, and others on the advice of the then CJI (Dipak Misra) when the matter regarding alleged misconduct of Justice Shukla was brought to his knowledge,"
Earlier in June this year, CJI Ranjan Gogoi wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to initiate a motion for his removal.
A three-judge in-house committee, comprising Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, Sikkim High Court Chief Justice S K Agnihotri and Madhya Pradesh High Court's Justice PK Jaiswal, had in January 2018 concluded there was sufficient substance in the allegations contained in the complaint against Justice Shukla and that the aberrations were serious enough to call for initiation of proceedings for his removal.
Following the committee's report, the then CJI Dipak Misra, in accordance with the relevant in-house procedure, advised Justice Shukla to either resign or seek voluntary retirement forthwith.
After he refused to do so, the then CJI had asked the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court to withdraw judicial work from him with immediate effect, after which he reportedly went on a long leave.
On Match 23, Justice Shukla wrote a letter to Gogoi which was forwarded by the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court, requesting that he be allowed to discharge judicial work in the high court.
"As the allegations against Justice Shukla were found by the committee to be so serious as to warrant the initiation of proceedings for his removal, he cannot be allowed to resume judicial work in any high court. In these circumstances, you are requested to consider further action," Gogoi wrote to the PM.
Justice Shukla, who was heading a division bench in the high court, had allegedly defied the categorical restraint orders passed by a CJI-led bench of the apex court last year to permit private colleges to admit students for the 2017-18 academic session.
Two complaints, including one from the advocate general of the state, was received by the CJI on September 1, 2017 and the then CJI had constituted an in-house committee.
According to the inquiry committee report, Justice Shukla had "disgraced the values of judicial life, acted in a manner unbecoming of a judge", lowered the "majesty, dignity and credibility of his office" and acted in breach of his oath of office.
With PTI Inputs