Saha case: SC registry officials held guilty of graft charge

Less than two months after the Supreme Court awarded its highest ever compensation to an NRI doctor in a medical negligence case, two of its officials were convicted by a city court for demanding bribes from the doctor.

In October this year, a US-based AIDS researcher, Kunal Saha, was awarded a record compensation of Rs. 5.96 crore for the medical negligence of a set of doctors in AMRI hospital, Calcutta, which led to the death of his wife in 1998.

In 2002, Saha had filed a criminal case against the doctors and the trial court had convicted them.

However, the doctors appealed and were acquitted by the Calcutta High Court. Saha then took the matter to the Supreme Court in 2004. But the appeal could not get listed for final hearing for the next four years.

Saha then came to India in January 2009 and announced that he would go on an indefinite hunger strike at Jantar Mantar to protest against the delay in the listing of his matter. However, his lawyer informed him that two of the officials from the apex court's registry had agreed to get the matter listed within 3-4 weeks if they were paid Rs 75,000.

Saha complained to the CBI and the two officials, K S Badrinathan and C Perumal, were caught red-handed by the CBI, which had set a trap to nab them.

On December 3, Special CBI Judge Dinesh Kumar Sharma convicted the two on charges of corruption and criminal conspiracy and sentenced sentenced Badrinathan to a two-year-term along with a fine of Rs 5000. Perumal was given three years in jail and a fine of Rs 12,000 was imposed on him.

"If this country has to progress, the corruption has to be dealt with a tough hand and this court is of the firm view that in corruption cases, there is no scope for having a lenient view.... The convicts before this court being the employees of the highest court of this land, deserves appropriate punishment so that message must go to the officials working in the superior courts that any tampering with the administration of justice may cause dearly," Judge Sharma held.

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