| Former Delhi High Court judge Shamit Mukherjee outside Patiala House court. (PTI)
New Delhi, May 5: Delhi High Court today observed that its former judge, Shamit Mukherjee, cannot seek immunity under the Judges Protection Act of 1985.
“The plea that the petitioner (Mukherjee) is protected by Judges Protection Act, 1985, cannot be prima facie accepted for the reason that in case of allegation of corruption, it may not be said that the order passed by petitioner within the discharge of his official duty were judicial function,” Justice R.C. Chopra said.
He made the remark today while granting interim bail to Mukherjee on medical grounds. The bail would be effective from May 7 when Mukherjee’s seven-day CBI custody ends.
Mukherjee resigned as a judge after the CBI accused him of complicity in the Delhi Development Authority land scam.
Justice Chopra rejected defending counsel D.C. Mathur’s argument that there was no need to arrest Mukherjee as he could have been interrogated without taking him into custody.
The “order was being passed to safeguard the right of the CBI to interrogate the petitioner while in custody and at the same time protect the interest of petitioner’s family members who have no one except the petitioner to look after them,” Justice Chopra said.
Mukherjee’s paralysed wife has been confined to bed for years and needs constant assistance, Mathur said in court while seeking bail. The former judge will have to furnish a personal bond and sureties of Rs 50,000 each.
The court also said Mukherjee should not establish contact with any of the co-accused or prosecution witnesses and fully cooperate in the investigation.
If a “former judge of this court cannot be shown any extra indulgence, he should also must not be subjected to undue harassment”, the court said.
Appearing for the CBI, additional solicitor-general R.N. Trivedi said Mukherjee should not be granted bail as the country was looking towards the court’s final decision that could have great consequences for the judiciary.
Mathur questioned the CBI’s charge that Mukherjee had given his unsigned but corrected draft judgment of a suit (Azad Singh vs DDA) of February 20 to Dharambir Khattar, the alleged middleman in the land scam.
According to Mathur, this was impossible as Mukherjee had pronounced the judgment in this case on February 20 itself.
The CBI today issued a “look out notice” against Sahara Restaurant owner Vinod Khatri, a prime accused in the scandal, three days after a court issued non-bailable warrants against the suspended Delhi constable.
All airports, railway stations and other routes have been put on alert to prevent Khatri from sneaking out of the city, sources said.
Khatri has been on the run ever since the CBI raided his home and hotel on April 30. He is alleged to have approached Khattar to get Mukherjee to pass a favourable judgment in a case of encroachment of the road on which his restaurant is situated in Vasant Kunj.