CBI apologises, SC questions the way sitting judge was treated

CBI apologises, SC questions the way sitting judge was treated

Notwithstanding its apology, the Supreme Court today criticised the CBI for the manner in which it "treated" a sitting Orissa High Court judge during its attempted raid at his residence in connection with a case of alleged bribery in the name of judges.

The apex court made strong observations after the CBI said the agency has apologised to the Chief Justice of the high court as well as the concerned judge for the "mistake" and both have accepted the apology tendered by the agency.

"The only problem is the way the sitting judge was treated," a bench comprising Justices A K Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said, adding "such mistakes are not expected from an agency like the CBI".

At the outset, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, representing the CBI, said the agency had sought appointment from the chief justice and the concerned judge of the Orissa High Court and tendered apology for the incident.

"It was a mistake," Mehta said and added that the apology was accepted by both the judges.

He said this matter should be rested in a dignified manner as senior officials of CBI had explained to the Chief Justice the circumstances under which the incident took place.

The issue had arisen after a CBI team had allegedly attempted to raid the official residence of the sitting judge in Cuttack on September 19-20 night this year.

A team of CBI officials had come looking for the house of a former judge of the high court. The sitting judge of the Orissa High Court had shifted at the former judge's residence.

Mehta, however, maintained that the probe team had not entered the house of the judge and CBI's superintendent of police had also met the concerned judge and expressed regrets for the inconvenience caused to him.

The bench sought to know from the ASG how the chief justice and the concerned judge had accepted CBI's apology.

"You have explained your position, that is one thing. Whether they have accepted it or not?," the bench asked, adding, "where is the acceptence of apology?."

Mehta told the bench that this could be verified and said he would file an affidavit giving all the details.

The bench also observed that the CBI officials, who had gone to conduct the raid, should have seen the name-plate of judge at his residence before going ahead with the raid.

When one of the counsel appearing for the respondents said that the apex court has to protect the institution, the bench observed, "we are concerned with the entire judiciary".

The court also asked the counsel representing the high court to verify whether the chief justice and the judge concerned had accepted the apology tendered by the agency.

Mehta also told the bench that an FIR against the CBI officers, lodged on a complaint by a security guard posted at the judge's residence, should be quashed.

The top court said it would consider this aspect later and asked the agency to file its affidavit. It posted the matter for hearing on January 5.

The CBI has approached the apex court seeking transfer of the matter pending before the Orissa high court.

The High Court had issued notices to the CBI and the state police on a plea seeking a judicial probe into the incident. The high court had sought responses on the plea filed by the bar association there. PTI ABA MNL RKS ARC

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