Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to initiate a motion in Parliament to remove Allahabad High Court’s Justice SN Shukla, whose removal was recommended 18 months ago after an in-house committee found him guilty of judicial irregularities, The Times of India reported on Sunday.
Gogoi’s predecessor Dipak Misra had asked Shukla to resign or take retire voluntarily after a committee comprising then Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, Sikkim High Court Chief Justice SK Agnihotri and Madhya Pradesh High Court’s Justice PK Jaiswal found merit in the allegations against Shukla, PTI reported.
When Shukla refused to follow the directive, Misra had asked the chief justice of Allahabad High Court to not give him judicial work. After that the judge had reportedly gone on a long leave.
Gogoi wrote the letter to Modi after declining Shukla’s request, contained in a letter dated May 23, that judicial work be reallocated to him. “As the allegations against Justice Shukla were found by the committee to be so serious as to warrant the initiation of proceedings for his removal, he cannot be allowed to resume judicial work in any HC,” the chief justice of India told the prime minister. “In these circumstances, you are requested to consider further action.”
Now, Rajya Sabha Chairperson M Venkaiah Naidu will set up a three-judge inquiry committee in consultation with Gogoi as per the provisions of the Judges (Enquiry) Act, 1968, to investigate the allegations. The committee will examine the evidence and records, and suggest a removal motion should be debated in the Upper House, according to PTI.
The allegations against Shukla pertain to the Medical Council of India bribery case. The alleged scam involves some medical colleges that were denied permission to function by the Medical Council of India. A middleman allegedly assured the colleges that the judiciary would allow them to keep running. The institutes then allegedly paid the middleman to facilitate this. In August 2017, Shukla passed an order granting permission to one such medical college to admit students despite a Supreme Court order restraining such action. The following month, Uttar Pradesh Advocate General Raghvendra Singh filed a complaint against Shukla.
On September 4, 2017, Shukla allegedly made handwritten corrections to his September 1 order, and gave permission to certain medical colleges to admit students despite a ban by the Medical Council of India.
In its preliminary inquiry report in September 2017, the Central Bureau of Investigation said retired Odisha High Court judge IM Quddusi and the chairman of a trust that runs some of the institutions had met Shukla in August and “delivered [to him] illegal gratification”. On September 19, 2017, the CBI filed an FIR against Quddusi and others for allegedly bribing public officials. However, the FIR did not mention Shukla.
Shukla joined the Allahabad High Court in 2005 and is scheduled to retire in July 2020.