Chandigarh, Oct 22: The CBI today strongly opposed permanent personal exemption sought by former Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge Nirmal Yadav in the cash-at-judge's door case, asserting she cannot be placed on a pedestal higher than any other accused.
“I speak with pain and anguish that a person in her position should be moving such applications repeatedly as if appearance in the court is some kind of monstrous thing,” Anupam Gupta, Special Public Prosecutor of the CBI, told the Court of Special CBI Judge Ritu Tagore, where the case is being heard.
While other accused in the case were present, Justice Yadav has appeared in the case only once and was not present today as she had sought exemption on medical grounds as she suffers from “lumbosacral spondilitis (back problem) and other ailments.
Filing its reply on Yadav's plea seeking exemption from personal appearance during pendency of the trial, Gupta submitted that the plea is “wholly and manifestly misconceived and unwarranted”.
“Whether factually or legally, there is not a shred of justification for acceding to (Justice Yadav's) application. She cannot be granted any privilege or exemption merely because she is a former High Court Judge. She cannot be placed on a pedestal higher than any of the other accused and has to be treated like all other accused persons in strict conformity with constitutional principle of equality before the law,” Gupta submitted.
Yadav's counsel, S K Garg Narwana, also moved another application before the CBI Court today seeking her exemption from appearance for today on medical grounds. The Judge, while granting her exemption for today, adjourned the case till November 18, the day when Justice Yadav has been directed to remain present when the arguments on her plea for permanent exemption will be heard.
The CBI in its reply filed today also opposed Yadav's plea from permanent exemption on the grounds that she was suffering from hypertension and being a diabetic.
“The pleas that the applicant has crossed the age of 62 years or that she is a lady and a former Judge of the High Court or that she is a resident of Gurgaon are also equally immaterial and untenable for the purpose of claiming personal exemption,” the CBI maintained.
The CBI further opposed the plea of “media trial” raised by Justice Yadav in the case as “absolutely unfounded”. Yadav's counsel Narwana submitted that Head, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, PGIMS, Rohtak, had advised her two weeks rest from October 4-18. The counsel also attached a copy of the certificate for rest issued by the PGIMS, to Justice Yadav.
Narwana further submitted that after diagnosis of the ailment on October 19, the doctor advised her to avoid long distance travel.Justice Yadav resides in Gurgaon, which is about 300 km from here.
In the plea, the counsel submitted that the “grant of exemption to the accused/applicant (Yadav) from personal appearance in the court is necessary, as she is unable to attend the Court due to the reasons (mentioned). The exemption will not cause any prejudice to the prosecution”.
“I only hope that it does not become a habit. In case this is repeated, I will be compelled to question the PGIMS Rohtak authorities which are giving her medical certificates like this,” CBI's Gupta said opposing Yadav's exemption.
The case had rocked the Punjab and Haryana High Court after Rs 15 lakh was wrongly delivered at the residence of Justice Nirmaljit Kaur, another judge of the High Court in Chandigarh, on August 13, 2008 following which she reported the matter to the Chandigarh Police.
The money, allegedly meant for Justice Yadav, was said to have been delivered to Justice Kaur due to confusion over their names. Later, Yadav was transferred as a judge of the Uttarakhand High Court.
Meanwhile, accused Sanjeev Bansal and Ravinder Singh were granted exemption from appearance on the next date of hearing as they said they would be unavailable on that date.
The CBI also filed its reply in the Court on Sanjeev Bansal's plea for supplying concerned notification and notings for appointment of Gupta as Special Public Prosecutor.
The CBI submitted that the accused's application is not maintainable as he has no right or locus standi to ask for the notings relating to Gupta's appointment as Special PP, which the agency said had been duly and lawfully made by the Central Government.
“He (Bansal) has no right to question the said (recent) appointment and it is the prerogative of the Central Government to appoint prosecutor for assisting the court,” the CBI submitted.
It further submitted that the plea has been moved only with the aim of “delaying and distracting the main proceedings pending before the Court” and sought that it be dismissed.