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Clean chit to district judge in PF scam case

In a first hint that key accused Ashutosh Asthana could have sung more than what he knew in the Rs 23 crore Ghaziabad judiciary PF scam case, the CBI has given a clean chit to a district judge saying the allegations against him were baseless.

District judge Subhash Chander had made an emotional plea to a bench headed by justice Arijit Pasayat for speedy conclusion of the probe against him saying it had cast a shadow on his unblemished 33-year track record and jeopardised his chances of elevation to the Allahabad High Court. Complying with the Bench's directive to file response to the senior-most district judge's role in the PF scam, the CBI submitted a sealed cover report saying it had verified all allegations levelled against Chander and found no incriminating evidence linking him to the scam.

Solicitor general G E Vahanvati had told the court during the last hearing that though the CBI was minutely examining the allegations against the judges, it had not found anything substantial against many of them. Asthana, a former treasury officer, had allegedly confessed how, with the tacit approval of district judges, money was illegally withdrawn from the provident fund accounts of class III and IV employees of the Ghaziabad district court.

He claimed that 35 judges including one in Supreme Court, 11 serving and retired judges in various HCs and 23 district judges had played some role in the scam. The UP police, after recording Asthana's confessional statement, had expressed its inability to probe a scam where the accused were judges and posted in several states. This led to the SC entrusting the investigations to CBI. The CBI, in its status report, said the UP police had arrested many people and made them accused in the case without verifying their actual role in the scam. That is why, it said, the agency had decided not to oppose the bail of 20 of the 48 accused.

Significantly, it sought transfer of the hearing from Ghaziabad district court to Delhi on the ground that it was not "getting desired cooperation'' from the judiciary there in fast-tracking the hearings.



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