SC appoints two judges to conduct trials in coal scam cases

·3-min read

New Delhi, Apr 5 (PTI) The Supreme Court Monday decided to appoint two judicial officers, Arun Bhardwaj and Sanjay Bansal, as special judges to conduct trials in the sensational coal scam cases pending since 2014 here.

The two judges would replace special judge Bharat Parashar who was holding trials in 41 coal scam cases.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde took note of a letter from the Delhi High Court's Registrar General that permission be granted to nominate or post another suitable presiding judicial officer as special judge in place of Parashar.

Special public prosecutor R S Cheema had suggested that it would be appropriate to appoint two special courts instead of one for disposal of 41 pending cases.

The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, noted the concurrence of the Central government to the proposal and went on to appoint Bhardwaj and Bansal as special judges to preside over two courts to deal with the cases.

“Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General appearing for the respondent-Union of India, agrees to the aforesaid suggestion. We have perused the names of five officers of Delhi Higher Judicial Service forwarded by the Registrar General of the Delhi High Court on the recommendation made by the Chief Justice of Delhi High Court vide letter dated 22.03.2021.

“We consider it appropriate to nominate Arun Bhardwaj and Sanjay Bansal as Presiding Judges of Special Court Nos.1 and 2 respectively. They shall be appointed in the order of their seniority. Ordered accordingly,” the bench said in the order.

The bench considered the five names of judicial officers provided by the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and said that it assumed that 'all the judges are good.' It has now posted next week the another plea of Cheema seeking discharge as public prosecutor from trying money laundering cases lodged by Enforcement Directorate in coal scam cases.

Cheema, however, has agreed to act as the special public prosecutor in cases lodged by CBI in coal scam. The apex court on March 15 had requested the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court to provide names of five trial court judges of 'high caliber and absolute integrity' for appointing one of them as the special judge to replace Parashar.

It had on March 15 said, 'We find that Bharat Parashar who has acted as a Special Judge (PC Act), (CBI)-07, Patiala House Court, New Delhi, needs to be replaced, as he has now completed more than 6 years in the same post after having been posted as Special Judge in the above mentioned court since August 19, 2014.' 'We accordingly request the Chief Justice, Delhi High Court to give us a panel of names of about five judges of a high caliber and absolute integrity to enable us to suggest an appropriate replacement for Bharat Parashar, Special Judge,' the bench had said.

The bench took note of the submission of special public prosecutor Cheema that the law contemplates the disposal of such cases has to be ensured in two years which may be extended up to four times by a period of six months each.

The top court in 2014 had quashed 214 coal blocks allocated by the Centre between 1993 and 2010 after taking note of PILs, including one filed by lawyer M L Sharma, and had ordered trial by a special CBI Judge. PTI MNL SJK RKS RKS