Cash-for-judge scam: Former high court judge summoned

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court Saturday summoned former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Nirmal Yadav in the cash-for-judge scam that had rocked this union territory in August 2008.

CBI Special Judge Ritu Tagore asked Yadav to appear before court May 18. Four other accused in the case have also been summoned on that date.

The CBI had filed a charge sheet against Yadav for corruption, conspiracy, destroying evidence and creation of false evidence in the court March 4 – the day Yadav, posted at Uttarakhand High Court, retired from service.

Besides the charge sheet, the CBI had also submitted 126 pages of documentary evidence in the case.

President Pratibha Patil had given sanction for the prosecution of justice Nirmal Yadav in February.

The scam came to light after a packet containing Rs.1.5 million in cash was delivered at the Sector 11 residence of high court judge Nirmaljit Kaur Aug 13, 2008. The judge filed a complaint and later the (then) Haryana additional advocate general Sanjeev Bansal, a property dealer Rajiv Gupta and Delhi-based hotelier Ravinder Singh Bhasin were arrested.

Bansal and Gupta told the police that the money was actually meant for Judge Yadav. They claimed that another packet containing Rs.1.5 million was separately delivered to Yadav at her Sector 24 official residence later on.

Yadav went on leave after her name figured in this bribery scandal. She was later transferred to the Uttarakhand High Court.

Bansal, Gupta, Bhasin and Delhi-based property dealer Nirmal Singh have also been summoned May 18.


Former Kerala cop gets life term for Maoist’s murder

A 40-year-old case came back to haunt a retired Kerala police officer Thursday when he was sentenced to life imprisonment by a CBI Special Court for killing a Maoist leader in cold blood and passing it off as a shootout.

Retired Inspector General of Police K. Lakshmana, now 74, was found guilty of murdering the Maoist leader – popularly known as ‘Naxal Varghese’ – by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court judge S. Vijayakumar a day earlier.

Lakshmana, the second accused in the case, has been sent to the Central Jail in Thiruvananthapuram.

The case goes back 40 years to Feb 18, 1970, the day Lakshmana directed Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) constable Ramachandran Nair to shoot dead Varghese, who was in police custody, in Wayanad district.

Until Nair revealed the real story, it was believed that Varghese was killed in a shootout with police. The Maoist movement was very strong in Kerala at that time.

Nair, haunted by guilt, came out with the truth in 1998 and said he was asked to commit the crime and that there never was a police ‘encounter’ — the official euphemism for deaths in real and staged gunbattles.

After a series of petitions, the Kerala High Court asked the CBI to conduct a probe.

Nair later passed away. But clinching evidence for the CBI came when Nair’s colleague and retired constable A.K.M. Haneefa, who was a witness in the case, said Lakshmana was present at the spot when Varghese was shot dead.

The CBI court observed there was ample evidence to prove that Nair shot Varghese to death on the command of Lakshmana, who was an inspector then.

Lakshmana has been a controversial officer. He ran into trouble in the disappearence of engineering student Rajan, who was picked up by police during Emergency but was never seen again. After a long drawn legal battle, Lakshmana was exonerated in the case.

A. Joseph, Varghese’s brother, said he was happy that truth had triumphed.

However, a third accused in the case, former director general of police P. Vijayan, was given the benefit of doubt by the court and exonerated.