Sunday, June 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Work withdrawn from three Judges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
Weeks after an inquiry into the alleged involvement of Punjab and Haryana High Court Judges in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam was initiated by the Chief Justice, work was withdrawn from Mr Justice Amar Bir Singh Gill, Mr Justice M.L. Singhal and Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill.

The names of the three Judges had reportedly figured in the confessional statements of PPSC’s under-suspension Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu’s alleged touts. Mr Justice Amar Bir Singh Gill and Mr Justice M.L. Singhal were accused of helping out their daughters in the selection process conducted by the Commission, while Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill was blamed for recommending the name of the son of a Judge belonging to another High Court. All the three Judges had categorically denied the allegations.

Soon after the issue regarding their alleged involvement was raised by the advocates, the Chief Justice had initiated a fact-finding inquiry into their alleged roles and had taken the assistance of Punjab’s then Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence), Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, and Inspector-General of Vigilance Bureau, Mr Chandershekhar.

As per a copy of the roster made available today, “Pending Division Bench and Single Bench cases, part-heard or reserved for judgement by honourable Mr Justice Amar Bir Singh Gill, honourable Mr Justice M.L. Singhal and honourable Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, stand discharged and the same shall be listed for fresh hearing as per order of the date withdrawing work from these three honourable Judges separately made by the Honourable Chief Justice”.

The roster, issued “by order of the Chief Justice”, was released under the name of High Court Joint Registrar R.K. Sharma. It will come into effect from July 1 — the day the High Court reopens after a month long vacation.

Speculation regarding the withdrawal of work from the three Judges was on since quite some time. Sources in the High Court were of the belief that the preparation of the new roaster was taking some time as the Vigilance Department and Punjab’s Advocate-General had reportedly given a “clean chit” to Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill. Mr Justice M.L. Singhal’s daughter too had made it in another entrance test conducted on all-India basis. The Chief Justice, Mr Arun B. Saharya, it may be recalled, was under tremendous pressure from the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association members to act either on the administrative, or the judicial, side.

In several meetings held in the High Court premises, the Association members had time and again resolved to ask the Chief Justice to withdraw work from the Judges whose names had surfaced during the investigation being conducted by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in the PPSC affairs. They had even threatened to go on strike, or boycott the Chief Justice’s Court, if the work was not withdrawn.

Addressing the gatherings, the advocates had asserted that the Judges, allegedly involved in the scam, should themselves submit their resignation or else the President should be asked to intervene. Others had argued that their confidence in the justice delivery system had been eroded. They had added that the Judges should be given a chance to explain the facts and circumstances. If their contention was proved to be wrong at a later stage, then they should be proceeded against in accordance with law, the members had maintained.

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