Judge corruption case: Delhi court asks MHA to produce records on phone interception

A Delhi court Wednesday issued a notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs to produce the records related to telephonic intercepts of former Orissa High Court Judge IM Quddusi, accused in a corruption case. It said the telephonic conversations cannot be used as evidence if the interception orders did not comply with rules.

Quddusi is accused of trying to influence court proceedings over an application to grant admission rights to an Uttar Pradesh-based private medical college, Prasad Institute of Medical Sciences, barred by the Medical Council of India.
Special Judge Anil Kumar Sisodia passed the order on an application filed by Quddusi seeking access to the entirety of the Review Committee’s records.

The CBI case and charge sheet relies on telephonic conversations against the accused persons. Quddusi’s lawyers had submitted that “prosecution has not provided the copies of the records of the Review Committee which is a mandatory requirement and in the absence of the same, the telephone recordings cannot be used as evidence”.

The court said it had a duty to ascertain whether the orders passed by the MHA were legal or not, even if the CBI may not not have relied on these documents.

“In case the orders of interception passed by the Secretary, MHA were not sent for the review in compliance of the aforesaid rules, the said telephonic conversations would be illegal and cannot be used as evidence,” the court said.

The court had also relied on a Supreme Court ruling, PUCL vs Union of India, which held that a “telephonic conversation is an important facet of a man’s private life and right to privacy would certainly include telephone conversation in the privacy of one’s home or office”.

The court said that this SC ruling makes it clear that “telephone tapping would, thus, infract Article 21 of the Constitution of India unless it is permitted under the procedure established by law”.

Quddusi’s application stated that while perusing the chargesheet it was noticed that some vital documents related to the compliance of rules were not provided in the charge sheet.

The CBI had told the court that it does not have the said documents in its custody. The agency argued that the application was not maintainable as “as the prosecution has supplied the copies of all the documents relied upon by CBI and no document has been withheld by the IO or the prosecution”.

The CBI FIR alleged that promoters of the Lucknow medical college, one of the institutes barred from admitting students for two years, had approached Quddusi, who had allegedly promised relief from court in exchange for bribes to influential people.

The college challenged the government order in the Supreme Court. The court, the FIR said, directed the government on August 1 to consider afresh the material on record. The government heard the matter and barred the college from admitting students for 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic sessions. It also authorised MCI to cash the college’s bank guarantee of Rs 2 crore.

The college promoters moved the Supreme Court, and at the same time also allegedly got in touch with Quddusi and Bhawana Pandey who, the FIR says, promised to get the matter settled. According to the CBI, Quddusi advised the promoters to withdraw the petition in SC and file a petition in Allahabad HC.

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