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TV voice gives CBI vital clue

New Delhi, Aug. 7: Bolstered by the protestations of an absconding judicial magistrate on television, the CBI today filed a chargesheet in a Chandigarh court against judicial magistrate S.S. Bhardwaj and district sessions judge R.M. Gupta on charges of accepting bribe to give favourable verdicts.

When sleuths landed at Bhardwaj’s house on May 11, he slipped out on the pretext of going to speak to his sobbing wife. While on the run, he spoke to a television channel on May 20 and refuted the corruption charges.

“The interview enabled the CBI to identify his voice in a taped conversation containing vital evidence regarding the conspiracy and demand of bribe by the accused persons,” a CBI spokesman said. Bhardwaj was arrested after his surrender on June 10.

The two members of the judiciary have been booked under 120(B) (criminal conspiracy) and other sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 7 lakh.

CBI officials said this is the first case of corruption involving two judiciary members who had directly demanded and accepted bribe. Earlier, the bureau had arrested Delhi High Court judge Shamit Mukherjee on charges of giving a favourable judgment to a local hotelier.

CBI said Gurvinder Singh Samra, a resident of Jalandhar, lodged a complaint on May 9, alleging the duo had demanded Rs 11 lakh for favouring his anticipatory bail application. Samra’s trial was on in Gupta’s court.

He added that they had demanded an initial instalment of Rs 7 lakh by the evening of May 10.

After taking permission from the chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, a trap was laid and Bhardwaj was caught red-handed accepting the bribe from Samra at his Sector 22 residence in Chandigarh.

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