India

Medical college bribery scandal: CBI court asks MHA, Telecom Ministry to produce panel report on phone interception

A special CBI court has directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Telecommunications to produce records pertaining to the decision of a review committee validating the interception of phone calls and conversations between accused involved in the medical college bribery scandal.

Two former High Court Judges – S N Shukla of the Allahabad High Court and I M Jerusalem of the Odisha High Court – have been charged by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the scandal.

The agency has produced intercepted phone calls between the two judges as part of its charge sheet filed in July. Besides the two former HC Judges, four private individuals also stand charged by the CBI.

Passing an order last week, special CBI Judge Prashant Kumar held: “In my considered opinion, any vital document which can lay its impact upon the merits of the case as a whole and by virtue of which the main connecting evidence i.e. intercepted call/messages of accused persons, may become inadmissible in evidence subject to contrary finding of review committee report, then such document can not only asked for by the accused persons but can be called by this court as well.”

The directions were passed on a plea filed by Quddusi.

Citing rules of the Telegraph Act, Advocate Ayush Jindal, counsel for Quddusi, argued that it was mandatory to send a copy of order of interception to the review committee in seven working days.

Jindal contended that since CBI has not provided copies of the records of the review committee in its chargesheet, which is a mandatory requirement, the telephone recordings cannot be used as evidence. Jindal further argued that “there are possibilities that such permission given earlier to intercept call/messages may be withdrawn then all such document relating to interception of calls/messages cannot be said to be admissible in evidence”. On the other hand, counsel for CBI argued that it had received an order from MHA to intercept the conversations between accused.

The agency argued that communication of reviewing that order for cancellation of any such order has not been received by it.

It was contended that unless and until any communication, for reconsidering/recalling the earlier order, to record the conversation between the accused and other persons is made to CBI, such an order for recording the conversation is stated to be validly passed.

The CBI argued that no such report of the review committee is required to be called.

The agency further argued that if the accused individuals had any grievances against any such order, then they themselves can procure such order and may take benefit of any such order during trial.

The prosecution argued that it was not aware about the outcome of such a report.

Jindal countered by saying that it was mandatory as per procedure that such permissions/directions are required to be reviewed.

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