The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CBI clears air on threat to judge

New Delhi, May 8: The CBI today tried to clear its name in a controversy over the alleged intimidation of a Delhi High Court judge by one of its officers.

The investigating agency said Justice R.S. Sodhi “did not divulge any information” when one of its joint directors and a senior counsel requested him to name the CBI officer who allegedly threatened him last week.

It also issued a press release to clarify its position on reports alleging it was tapping Sodhi’s telephone.

On May 2, Sodhi had charged a CBI officer with “interfering with the course of justice” by “conveying” to him “to be careful” while hearing a petition filed by former Enforcement Directorate deputy director Ashok Agarwal.

Agarwal has been booked by the CBI in two criminal cases: one, for falsely implicating a jeweller under the now-defunct Foreign Exchange Regulation Act; and two, for possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

In the press release, the agency said: “The CBI has noted these allegations in all possible seriousness and has resolved to take strictest possible action against the delinquent officer, if his misconduct is established in the matter.”

Last week, the matter had generated much interest in legal circles after clippings of the report were pasted on the Delhi High Court notice board, inviting reactions from lawyers.

On May 5, Rajya Sabha member and former Union law minister Ram Jethmalani, who was Agarwal’s counsel, urged Chief Justice of India V.N. Khare to initiate urgent action against the CBI official who allegedly threatened the judge.

“It cannot and should not be hushed up. Unless very stern action is taken to punish this kind of gross misconduct, the liberty of no citizen will be safe and justice will be exposed to public ridicule,” Jethmalani said in his letter to Khare. A copy of the letter was also sent to the chief justice of Delhi High Court.

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