For The First Time, Chief Justice Allows CBI To Probe High Court Judge For Corruption
In an unprecedented decision, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi has allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to lodge an FIR against sitting Allahabad High Court Judge SN Shukla on Tuesday.
The CJI gave permission to the CBI to file an FIR under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly favoring a private medical college.
Initiate Probe Against Justice SN Shukla
After receiving a complaint of serious judicial misconduct from UP Advocate General Raghvendra Singh, former CJI Deepak Misra had ordered a preliminary probe against Justice Shukla. Following which, Justice Misra constituted an in-house panel comprising then Madras HC Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, then Sikkim HC CJ SK Agnihotri and Madhya Pradesh HC Justice PK Jaiswal to inquire into the allegations.
During the investigation, Justice Shukla was found guilty of favoring a private medical college by extending the admission deadline of students in contravention of the existing rules.
The Panel had concluded that “there is sufficient substance in the allegations contained in the complaints against Justice Shukla and the aberrations complained of are serious enough to call for initiation of proceedings for his removal”.
The panel further stated that Justice Shukla had “disgraced the values of judicial life, acted in a manner unbecoming of a judge”
Following which, Shukla was asked by the former CJI Dipak Misra to resign or take voluntary retirement. And after he declined to comply, judicial work was withdrawn from Justice Shukla in 2018.
CBI Sought Permission To File FIR
The CBI had written to the Chief Justice Gogoi seeking permission to investigate Justice Shukla in the case.
A brief note attached on the preliminary enquiry with a chronological chart, the CBI director wrote, “Aforementioned preliminary enquiry (PE) was registered by the CBI against Justice Sri Narayan Shukla of the high court of Allahabad, Lucknow bench, Uttar Pradesh, and others on the advice of the then CJI (Dipak Misra) when the matter regarding alleged misconduct of Justice Shukla was brought to his knowledge.”
The CBI director had said, “If deemed appropriate, permission may be granted to initiate a regular case for investigation.”
Replying to which the CJI, in a letter to the CBI director, said, “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 in your letter under reference.”
Last month, the CJI, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requested for moving a motion against Justice Shukla in the Parliament.
FIR Against Sitting Judge
In 1991, the Supreme Court, hearing the K Veeraswamy case had barred any investigating agency from lodging an FIR against any sitting Supreme Court or HC judge – without getting approval from the CJI. However, no investigating agency had ever probed a sitting judge before 1991.
Since then, this is the first time that the CJI has allowed an investigating agency to file an FIR against a sitting judge.