CBI notice to ex-HC judge Quddusi bad in the eyes of law, says court

Calling it “bad in the eyes of law”, a special CBI Court has scrapped a notice issued by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to retired Orissa High Court judge IM Quddusi, who stands charge-sheeted by the agency on charges of corruption in the medical college bribery scandal.

Vide the said notice, issued in February, the agency had sought information from Quddusi.

“I am of the considered opinion that notice issued by the investigating officer (IO) under Section 91 of CrPC to the accused is bad in the eyes of law and the same cannot be sustained being violative of Article 20 (3) of Constitution of India (immunity against self-incrimination),” the special CBI judge held. The court has directed the investigation officer of CBI to “withdraw” the said notice dated February 11, 2020 issued to Quddusi.

Advocate Vijay Aggarwal, counsel for Quddusi, had challenged the notice citing Quddusi’s “right against self-incrimination.” Aggarwal had contested the CBI’s notice stating that the Constitution safeguards rights of an accused from self-incrimination. He had contended that the Constitution confers immunity from compelling an accused to be a witness against himself by self-incriminating evidence.

The CBI, on the other hand, contended that Quddusi is “legally bound” to produce the said information.

However, finding little force in CBI’s contention the court, referring to a Supreme Court judgement relied upon by Quddusi, has held that the relevant section, under which the CBI issued notice “on its true construction does not apply to an accused person.”

The agency last year had asked the retired judge to supply details of mobile numbers used by him during 2017. Also, Quddusi was asked to share “details of all the bank accounts including closed accounts with statement of account for the period May 2017 to October 2017 and details of drivers/servants employed during May 2017 to October 2017.”

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