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In a development that could well send skeletons from the higher judiciary’s closet tumbling out, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act against former judge of the Allahabad and Orissa High Courts, Justice IM Quddusi.
The CBI is probing Quddusi J’s alleged role in a racket involving the opening of medical colleges (Prasad Education Trust case) in Uttar Pradesh.
An annexure attached to the FIR lodged by the CBI reveals that two persons, BP Yadav and Palash Yadav, who manage the affairs of the Prasad Educational Trust, approached the former judge with a view to getting a decision in their favour.
By way of background, the central government had barred around 46 medical colleges (including the one owned by Prasad Educational Trust) for failing to fulfil the requisite criteria. The Trust challenged the same in the Supreme Court, which had directed the government to reconsider the materials on record and review the grant of the letter of permission to run the college.
After giving the petitioners an opportunity to be heard, the Centre again decided to debar the college on August 10 this year. It further directed the Medical Council of India (MCI) to encash the bank guarantee of Rs. 2 crore, which was required to be deposited by the Trust. The Trust would once again challenge this order.
The CBI document reveals that on Justice Quddusi’s advice, the petition in the Supreme Court was later withdrawn, and another petition was filed in the Allahabad High Court. A Bench of Justices Virendra Kumar-II and Narayan Shukla would pass an order in favour of the petitioners, stating that the petitioner’s college would not be delisted from the counselling list until the next hearing on August 31.
The MCI then challenged this decision before the apex court. In an order dated August 29, a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and Justices Prafulla C Pant and AM Khanwilkar would hold,
“We appreciate the fair submission of Mr. Rohatgi and direct that the bank guarantee shall not be encashed. As the present order is passed by us, the writ petition filed before the High Court shall be deemed to have been disposed of. Liberty is granted to the respondent to approach this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.”
Then, Prasad Education Trust would file another petition in the Supreme Court and request Justice Quddusi and one Bhawana Pandey to get the matter “settled” through his contacts. These two in turn engaged one Biswanath Agrawala to do their bidding. Agrawala is said to have very close contact with “senior relevant public functionaries”, and demanded “huge gratification” for bribing public officials for the same. The CBI document further reveals that a meeting was scheduled to take place in Delhi for payment of the aforementioned gratification.
The CBI has thus concluded that the information in their possession discloses commission of offences punishable under Section 8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code. Therefore, a case has been registered against Justice Quddusi and the others.
The Supreme Court is, in fact, seized of a slew of cases relating to approval for functioning of medical colleges and has been delivering a plethora of judgments in such cases.
The information possessed by the CBI certainly poses some trying questions about corruption in the higher judiciary. Just how far this criminal conspiracy goes, and what further dirt the CBI will dig up during the course of its investigation, is anybody’s guess.
Earlier today, it was reported that the residence of sitting Orissa High Court judge Justice CR Dash was mistakenly raided by the CBI. It now appears that the CBI intended to raid the house of Justice Quddusi in connection with this case.
Read the FIR below.