Thiruvananthapuram, February 8, BPNS
The Kerala High Court has initiated a suo motu contempt case against KM Shajahan, then private secretary of former chief minister VS Achuthanandan. The move follows after Shajahan in a YouTube video leveled serious allegations against high court judges concerning the bribe scandal involving advocate Saiby Jose Kidangoor. In another development, Saiby has stepped down as president of the Kerala High Court Advocates’ Association (KHCAA).
It’s a division bench comprising Justices Anil K Narendran and PG Ajithkumar which initiated contempt against Shajahan.
In a video uploaded to a YouTube channel ‘Prathipaksham’, Shajahan alleged that some judges themselves had an active role in the bribe scandal involving Saiby. In that video, he also mentioned Judges PV Kunjikrishnan and Kauser Edappagath.
According to the charges framed against Shajahan, the allegation is prima facie contumacious and is made to tarnish the integrity of the judges. It also added that the speech made by Shajahan amounts to scandalizing the authority of the court and interference in the due course of judicial proceedings. In a notice sent to Shajahan, it was also stated that such behavior is intended to lower the authority of the court.
Earlier in the day, the KHCAA executive committee considered Saiby’s resignation letter and unanimously accepted it.
In his letter, Saiby stated that he has penned down the letter with a wounded heart and said that the allegations against him are false and cooked up by some lawyers, who are with KHCAA.
It was on the other day that the high court refused to quash the First Information Report (FIR) registered against Saiby. Justice Kauser Edappagath, who considered the plea, then said that it is premature and observed that the allegations were very serious.
“Why is he in a hurry and why he couldn’t face the investigation,” asked the court then to the counsel who appeared on behalf of Saiby.
The court also orally observed that it (the allegation) is something that is maligning the entire justice delivery system.
According to Live Law, a website dedicated to legal news, the court further observed, “You are an officer of this court and an office bearer of a responsible institution, it is also your responsibility to prove your innocence and remove the shadow that has been cast on the entire justice delivery system.”
Earlier, the court observed that a preliminary investigation was conducted by the High Court Vigilance wing and then by the police.
“The police felt that registering an FIR was necessary. A further probe has started and on the next day you rush to court?,” asked the court.
It was on February 1 that the police registered a case against Saiby. It was Ernakulam Central Police Station that registered the case for cheating (section 420 of the Indian Penal Code deals with cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and under section 7 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, which deals with offenses and penalties for public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act.
The case is being investigated by a special team under the direct monitoring of ADGP Shaik Darvesh Sahib.
“A letter was received by the State Police Chief from the High Court Registrar. Based on that Kochi City Police Commissioner was asked to conduct a preliminary inquiry. As it was found merit in the complaint, an FIR has been registered,” read an excerpt of a release from the police headquarters then.
It was after another lawyer put up a Facebook post that Saiby’s alleged ill-doings came to light. It was accused that Saiby used to collect large sums of money from some clients that include some celebrity clients, under the pretext that he would use it to bribe several judges, including high court Justices A Muhammad Mustaque, PV Kunhikrishnan, Ziyad Rahman AA, and others.
Upon coming to know about the post, it is learned that it was Justice Kunhikrishnan who directed the Registrar to conduct an inquiry.