News: Judge says Minister’s name was used to influence him

Chennai, 07 July, (  Justice K Regupathi of the Madras High Court, who dropped a bombshell in open court on June 30 last that a Union Minister tried to influence him in a criminal case, has softened the blow by saying it was the petitioner who used the Minister’s name to get a favorable order.

 The judge, who rescued himself from the case relating to alleged tampering of the mark-sheet of a medico in the Puducherry University examination being investigated by the CBI, has said in a report to the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court that it was the petitioner who met him in his chamber and tried to pressurize him to grant anticipatory bail to the medico and his doctor father by claiming the Minister was interested in the case.

 Disclosing this, Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan to whom a copy of the report was forwarded by the Madras High Court Chief Judge, has said “from what Justice Regupathi wrote (to the CJ of the Madrs High Court), there is nothing to suggest that the Minister had called the judge”.

While the judge did not name the Minister, AIADMK leader J Jayalalitha alleged that it was Union IT Minister A Raja of the DMK who threatened him to grant anticipatory bail to one Dr C Krishnamurthy and his medico son Kirubha Sridhar in a case relating to tampering of mark sheets in third year MBBs examination. She said not only did Mr Raja and Dr Krishnamurthi hail from the same Perambalur district, the two were also business partners. Mr Raja denied even knowing Dr Krishnamurthi.

 Narrating the sequence of events, Chief Justice Balakrishnan said the advocate for the petitioners met the judge in his chamber and told him that a Union Minister was interested in the case. He even called the Minister on his mobile phone and asked the judge to speak to him. Justice Regupathi refused to take the call.

When the matter came up before the court, the advocate again tried to pressurise the judge. Justice Regupathi then said: “The other day you tried to influence me by using the Minister’s name. I don’t want to hear the case. I will adjourn it”.

 If the advocate had threatened the judge in his chamber by dropping Minister’s name, he is liable for contempt and even debarred from practice. But there was no mention of it by the CJI in his interaction with a section of the media. Further, if the advocate had made a call from his mobile phone, it can be traced by the investigating agency, the CBI, from the service provider even if he has erased it from his cell.

 Most intriguing is how the two accused are still absconding when the CBI, which took over the case six months ago, has nabbed two others, a section officer of the university and a middle man.  Reports from  Puducherry say the scandal covers not just medical but even engineering examinations and it dates back to January 2008 when Jayaraman, a data entry operator in the Puducherry University’s examination department stumbled upon tampering of marks and wrote to higher-ups.

 According to a petition sent on July 3 to the CJI by the Federation of People’s Rights, Puducherry, Jayaraman found out that two University officials were behind the marks scandal and they, in the presence of police in Kalapet station, pressurised him to own up the crime. His statement under duress was recorded by police. Unable to withstand pressure, Jayaraman attempted suicide in February 2008 and was admitted to JIPMER Hospital. The Kalapet police had recorded his statement in hospital in which he again named the two officials. Jayaraman was found dead in May 2008 and Kalapet police had registered a case of murder as post-mortem report said he was strangled to death.

 The secretary to the federation, Mr G Sugumaran, has further alleged Jayaraman’s brother has filed a petition in the Madras High Court, seeking a CBI probe into the murder case.

 Mr Sugumaran in his petition, sought a CBI enquiry into Jayaraman’s murder “as Puducherry Police failed to make any progress in this case till date”. / 07.07.2009.

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