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Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has reportedly granted the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) permission to register an FIR against a sitting judge of the Allahabad High Court, Justice SN Shukla under the Prevention of Corruption Act (POCA) for allegedly accepting favours in a case concerning MBBS admissions into a private medical college.
Charges of judicial impropriety were slapped against Justice Shukla after it was found that he had made handwritten corrections to an order passed by his own bench, so as to allow a medical college in Lucknow permission to take admissions.
As per a TOI report, the CBI is said to have written to CJI Gogoi recently, seeking permission to initiate a regular investigation against Justice Shukla in the matter. CJI Gogoi is reported to have responded on Tuesday as follows,
“I have considered the note appended to your letter on the above subject. In the facts and circumstances of the case, I am constrained to grant permission to initiate a regular case for investigation as sought for you in you letter under reference.“
The judge was also reportedly implicated in the medical college bribery case in which former high court judge Justice IM Quddusi was charged by the CBI.
In September 2017, the CBI had framed corruption charges against former Allahabad and Orissa High Court judge IM Quddusi. The CBI’s FIR stated that Quddusi was involved in an attempt to influence members of the higher judiciary in cases related to the opening of medical colleges.
On September 6, a senior CBI official is said to have approached former CJI Dipak Misra, along with the evidence that the agency had, to seek his permission to file an FIR against Justice Shukla. CJI Misra apparently refused at that point of time, and the FIR named only Quddusi, middleman Vishwanath Agarwala and BP Yadav of the Prasad Education Trust, which owned one of the medical colleges.
However, in January last year, an in-house inquiry committee recommended the removal of Justice SN Shukla. The committee, constituted by CJI Misra made some adverse remarks against Shukla J in its report, after it was found that he had made handwritten corrections to an order passed by his own bench, so as to allow a medical college in Lucknow permission to take admissions.
Shukla is said to have made corrections to an order passed on September 1, 2017, three days later, thereby allowing GCRG Institute of Medical Science to admit fresh students for the academic session 2017-18. Further, it was alleged that Shukla J had violated orders passed by the CJI Misra-led bench of the Supreme Court, which was hearing cases regarding the opening of medical colleges.
In view of the inquiry committee’s findings, CJI Misra also advised Justice Shukla to either resign or take voluntary retirement. The High Court judge initially refused to do either, prompting CJI Misra to ask the Allahabad High Court Chief Justice to withdraw judicial work from the judge. However, days later, Justice Shukla chose to go on 90 days leave, with the Uttar Pradesh Governor’s sanction. In the meanwhile, CJI Misra gave the green signal for initiating Justice Shukla’s impeachment.
In March this year, Justice Shukla is reported to have written to incumbent CJI Gogoi, requesting that he be allowed to discharge judicial work. However, last month, CJI Gogoi rejected his request for re-allocation of work and wrote to the Prime Minister, calling for the removal of Justice Shukla.