PF scam: Court threatens warrants against accused judges

The special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court trying the provident fund (PF) scam Monday asked the defence lawyers for the six accused judges to furnish an undertaking to ensure their clients’ presence before the court otherwise warrants would be issued against them.

The court’s warning came when it found that the six judges had not turned up before the court even after they failed to get relief from the Allahabad High Court. If the undertaking does not reach the court within a week’s time, it would issue non-bailable warrants (NBW) against the six erring judges on the next hearing, scheduled for Feb 18.

The six judges accused in the Rs.6.58 crore Provident Fund scam – R.P. Yadav, R.P. Mishra, R.N. Mishra, R.S. Chaubey, Arun Kumar and A.K. Singh – did not appear in the court despite summons issued to them on last two hearing dates on Dec 21, 2010 and Jan 13.

All the six judges produced medical certificates through their counsels citing ill-health for their non-appearance and seeking exemption due to their old age, and ailments they or their close family member suffer from. One even sought re-investigation of the case. The court, however, dismissed all their pleas.

In his order, CBI special judge A.K. Singh said that the former judges could go to Allahabad High Court for relief, they could go to Delhi for treatment but could not come to Ghaziabad to appear before the court.

CBI lawyer B.K. Singh submitted that it was delaying tactics by the former judges under one or other pretext. They should not be allowed to mislead the court and NBWs be issued against them to ensure they are present in the court hearings, he added.

A sum of Rs. 6.58 crore was fraudulently withdrawn from the Provident Fund accounts of class III and IV employees of the Ghaziabad district court between 2001 and 2007. The scam was exposed after special CBI judge Rama Jain lodged a criminal case against 70 people at Kavi Nagar police station on Feb 15, 2008. No judge was, however, named in the FIR.

While Ashutosh Asthana, the key accused who died in Dasna Jail in mysterious circumstances on Nov 18, 2009, had named 36 judges of the Supreme Court, High Court and district courts as accused, the apex court permitted the CBI to prosecute only six of them, now retired.

The CBI claimed to have found details in the manner in which the fund money was illegally siphoned out and lavishly spent on furniture, crockery, mobile phones, electronic gadgets and appliances, laptops, rail tickets, taxi fare and other luxury items for the judges.