Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Tuesday gave permission to the Central Bureau of Investigation to file a case against Allahabad High Court’s Justice Shri Narayan Shukla under the Prevention of Corruption Act, The Times of India reported.

In his response to the CBI’s request for permission to file a case against Shukla, Gogoi said: “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.”

The Supreme Court had in 1991 ruled that investigating agencies must show evidence to the chief justice before filing a case against a sitting judge of the top court or High Courts. This is reportedly the first time the chief justice has approved such a request.

In January 2018, an in-house committee set up by Gogoi’s predecessor, Dipak Misra, had found judicial irregularities in the Medical Council of India bribery case and had asked Shukla to resign or retire voluntarily. After Shukla had done neither, Misra asked the chief justice of the Allahabad High Court to not give him judicial work. Shukla had then reportedly gone on a long leave.

Last month, Gogoi had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to initiate a motion in Parliament to remove Shukla. Gogoi had in May declined Shukla’s request for judicial work to be allocated to him again.

“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 had told the prime minister. “In these circumstances, you are requested to consider further action.”

Allegations against SN Shukla

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.