By LE Desk
New Delhi, April 5: The Supreme Court on Monday appointed two judicial officers, Arun Bhardwaj and Sanjay Bansal, as special judges to conduct trials in the sensational coal scam cases pending since 2014 here.
Earlier special judge Bharat Parashar was conducting trials in around 40 coal scam cases and has been replaced by two judges after the top court recently took note of a letter from the Delhi High Court’s Registrar General that permission be granted to nominate or post another suitable presiding judicial officer as special judge in place of Parashar.
A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde considered the five names of judicial officers provided by the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and said that it assumed that “all the judges are good”, news agency PTI reported.
The bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, instead of appointing one special judge to replace Parashar, nominated two Presiding Officers to conduct trials after special public prosecutor R S Cheema suggested so.
There are 41 pending cases and it would be appropriate if two courts are constituted, Cheema said.
The bench then decided to appoint Bhardwaj and Bansal as special judges to preside over two courts to deal with coal scam cases.
The top court on March 15 had requested the Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court to provide names of five trial court judges of “high caliber and absolute integrity” for appointing one of them as the special judge to replace Parashar.
It had on March 15 said, “We find that Bharat Parashar who has acted as a Special Judge (PC Act), (CBI)-07, Patiala House Court, New Delhi, needs to be replaced, as he has now completed more than 6 years in the same post after having been posted as Special Judge in the above mentioned court since 19.08.2014.”
“We accordingly request the Chief Justice, Delhi High Court to give us a panel of names of about five judges of a high caliber and absolute integrity to enable us to suggest an appropriate replacement for Bharat Parashar, Special Judge,” the bench had said.
The bench took note of the submission of special public prosecutor Cheema that the law contemplates the disposal of such cases has to be ensured in two years which may be extended up to four times by a period of six months each.
It had taken note of the fact that Parashar has been acting as the special judge since 2014 and his replacement is now needed and fixed the case after two weeks to consider the names to be provided by the Chief Justice of the High Court.
The top court in 2014 had quashed 214 coal blocks allocated by the Centre between 1993 and 2010 after taking note of PILs, including one filed by lawyer M L Sharma, and had ordered trial by a special CBI Judge.