November 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India
SC Judge to examine cases against 3 HC Judges
New Delhi, November 17
The orders for fresh examination have come as a follow-up action on the inquiry report submitted by the former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice Arun B. Saharya, on August 26 to the then Chief Justice of India, Mr Justice B. N. Kirpal. Both Mr Justice B. N. Kirpal (CJI) and Mr Justice Arun B. Saharya have since retired.
According to reliable sources, the decision to appoint Mr Justice S. Rajendra Babu for further examination was taken at the highest level a few days ago.
Mr Justice S. Rajendra Babu, who was appointed a permanent Judge of the Karnataka High Court on February 19, 1988, was elevated to the apex court on September 25, 1997.
The Tribune was the first newspaper to report that Mr Justice Arun B. Saharya handed over his final inquiry report to the CJI on August 25. A day later, Mr Justice Saharya ordered the restoration of work to the three Judges — Mr Justice Amarbir Singh Gill, Mr Justice M. L. Singhal and Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill.
The Tribune’s stand has remained consistent throughout on three fundamental points — the people’s right to information; freedom of the Press to disseminate information; and the need for transparency in the conduct of the investigations in the sordid affairs of the Punjab Public Service Commission after Mr Justice K. S. Grewal on May 3 put a stop to information flow in the case by a summary order on a petition filed by the main suspect Ravi Sidhu. Subsequently The Tribune came out with a front page editorial “No, My Lord!”.
Another editorial “Do respond, My Lords!” saying that “it is for the honourable Judges to ensure that public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary is not undermined” followed as the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association took a principled stand on the conduct of the Judges and other matters relating to the murky affairs of the PPSC. The Bar asked the Chief Justice to hold an inquiry into the allegations against certain Judges.
The first inquiry into the reported involvement of the three Judges started on the instructions of the Chief Justice of India in the month of May itself as the matter was grave in nature and that both credibility and honour of the judiciary were at stake.
As the inquiry proceeded Mr Justice Saharya withdrew work from the three Judges on June 28 even as the Punjab Government in a “cover-up” exercise disbanded the intelligence team headed by the ADGP, Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, who had been assisting the Chief Justice in his inquiry.
The holding of further inquiry, informed sources reveal, was a sequel to the expression of opinion by certain members of the top brass of the judiciary as well as legal luminaries that before coming to the conclusion, Mr Justice Arun B. Saharya perhaps could not give adequate hearing to the three Judges to ascertain their viewpoints.
It was held that because of the sensitivity of the matter, not only justice should be done but it must appear that justice has been done in all fairness to keep the honour and prestige of the country’s most respected institution — The Judiciary.
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