JUDGE DEMANDED Rs5 cr TO SETTLE CASE OF MONEY LAUNDERING
Special CBI judge Sudhir Parmar, who was suspended by the Punjab and Haryana HC two weeks ago, has been booked by the ACB for criminal misconduct
May 10, 2023. Under suspension, Haryana judicial officer Sudhir Parmar, who was holding the charge of special CBI judge and special judge under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), Panchkula, till April 26 was booked by the Haryana anti-corruption bureau (ACB) on April 17 under the Prevention of Corruption Act for alleged criminal misconduct and offences relating to a public servant being bribed.
The anti-corruption bureau (ACB) was on Haryana judicial officer Sudhir Parmar’s trail for more than three months and sought the permission of Punjab and Haryana high court chief justice Ravi Shanker Jha for registering a case against him. (HT file photo)
Parmar was posted as the special CBI judge on November 18, 2021.
The ACB was on Parmar’s trail for more than three months and sought the permission of Punjab and Haryana high court chief justice Ravi Shanker Jha for registering a case against the judicial officer on February 21, 2023 (vide letter no. 3089/ACB/(H). The permission was subsequently accorded by the chief justice in April after the ACB exhibited the evidence at hand.
Was presiding over trial of cases involving developers, politicians
An additional district and sessions rank judge, Parmar, was presiding over the trial of several CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED) cases involving real estate developers, retired officers and politicians. He was questioned by an ACB team on an April 18 morning raid at his official residence in Panchkula. He was placed under suspension by the high court chief justice on April 27 after an interlocutory application in the Supreme Court (SC) was filed by the HC seeking the permission of the apex court to transfer Parmar “in view of gravity and seriousness of the matter”.
The SC nod was necessary as the apex court had in October 2022 directed the high courts that if transfers of judicial officers presiding over special courts and CBI courts involving prosecution of MPs and MLAs was necessitated for any reason (except in the normal course of transfer at the end of the tenure), the permission of the SC shall be deemed to be necessary.
Text messages were sent to suspended judicial officer Parmar and real-estate developer Roop Bansal on May 10 morning to seek their version on the Prevention of Corruption Act FIR. The two had not responded till the filing of this report.
Audio recordings, WhatsApp chats formed basis of FIR
The ACB registered the FIR against Parmar, his nephew, Ajay Parmar and Bansal, who is the director of real estate company M3M India Pvt Ltd, under Sections 7, 8, 11 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code for offences relating to a public servant being bribed, a public servant taking undue advantage without consideration from the person concerned in proceedings or business transacted by such public servant, criminal misconduct by a public servant and criminal conspiracy.
The April 17 FIR registered under the signatures of the additional SP, ACB, Kushal Singh is based on “reliable source information”, WhatsApp chats and audio recordings of the accused. It was kept classified and password-protected by the ACB officials since a raid was to take place at Parmar’s residence the next day.
‘Favouritism, abuse of position, accepting undue advantage’
According to the April 17 FIR (number 6) accessed by Hindustan Times, “a reliable source information” was received by the ACB against Parmar for allegedly showing favouritism in lieu of undue advantage to Roop Bansal and his brother Basant Bansal of M3M and Lalit Goyal of IREO Group who are accused in CBI and ED cases pending in the special CBI court. The FIR stated that the reliable source information disclosed instances of grave misconduct, abuse of official position and demand/acceptance of undue advantage/bribe from the accused in cases pending in Parmar’s court.
The ED had registered a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in 2021 and arrested Lalit Goyal, the vice-chairman and managing director of realty giant IREO Group in November 2021 pertaining to cheating and siphoning of funds of home buyers and others. In February 2022, the ED had presented a prosecution complaint (challan) against Goyal in the special PMLA court in Panchkula.
“The source has provided screenshots of WhatsApp chats between Parmar and another person in which in he demands ₹5 crore to ₹7 crore for helping the M3M owners in ED cases and requests the person chatting with him to receive the bribe on his behalf. In the same chat, the person says that ₹5 crore has already been given to Parmar by the accused of IREO case,” the FIR said. The WhatsApp chats were allegedly made from Parmar’s own mobile device as well as that of his nephew, Ajay Parmar, employed by M3M as a legal adviser, the FIR said.
The FIR said that according to the facts disclosed in the audio recordings provided by the source, Parmar before being posted as special CBI judge and special judge under PMLA, Panchkula, was posted as additional district and sessions judge, Gurugram, where by abusing his official position of being a judge he got in contact with the owners of M3M and IREO Group and got undue favour by getting his nephew, Ajay Parmar, appointed as legal adviser in M3M at a package of about ₹12 lakh per annum.
“Subsequently, when Parmar was transferred as special CBI and ED judge in November 2021, the annual package of his nephew was straightway hiked to ₹18 lakh to ₹20 lakh per annum. Parmar being special CBI/ED judge in connivance with the accused started favouring them for the sake of illegal gratification through his nephew,” the FIR said.
The ACB FIR said that in another audio recording provided by the source, Sudhir Parmar is asking someone for ₹1.5 crore ( ₹50 lakh per head) as illegal gratification for meeting the accused. The FIR said that in three other recordings provided by the source, Sudhir Parmar in a conversation with Roop Bansal said that he is afraid that his connection with the accused may get disclosed due to the sensitive nature of his posting. He allegedly told Roop Bansal never to talk to him on his personal mobile phone.
Sudhir Parmar always speaks to him and other accused of M3M and IREO through his nephew Ajay Parmar’s mobile phone using WhatsApp and FaceTime applications, the FIR said. According to the audio recordings, Roop Bansal also tells Parmar they never talk to him on his phone and always use the mobile device of Ajay Parmar.
“More audio recordings provided by the source reveal that Parmar, during a conversation with an unknown person, admits/claims that he did not let Roop Bansal become an accused in ED cases. In another recording with Roop Bansal, he even promises that if he (Roop Bansal) is let off in the CBI case, then he (Parmar) would not let him (Roop Bansal) become accused in the ED case. In another recording pertaining to property worth ₹1,200 crore, Parmar claims that he has spoken to Sunil Yadav (officer of ED) and he would not allow it to be attached provided some justification for the transaction of money is shown,” the FIR said.
The FIR states that in yet another recording, Sudhir Parmar states that he met the wife of accused Lalit Goyal, his brother-in-law Sudhanshu Mittal and assured them that though he cannot release Lalit Goyal on bail in the PMLA case, he would favour him by dealing with him in the court in a respectful manner and not harass him by issuing frequent warrant/notices, or denying permission of visit abroad, etc., and make him feel at home while in court.
“The audio recordings contain conversation of Sudhir Parmar with one VP Gupta (a removed/dismissed judge of Haryana) wherein they are making a strategy to show favour with a view to extort money from former IAS officer TC Gupta, who was the then director, town and country planning, and who apparently is an accused in a case of CBI/ED,” the FIR said.
In view of these facts, the ACB said a prima facie case under Sections 7, 8, 11 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 120-B of the IPC is made out against Sudhir Parmar, Ajay Parmar, Roop Bansal and others.
Sameer Chaudhary, lawyer for the real estate development company IREO. in an email on Thursday night denied allegations of any misconduct or wrongdoing and participation in any offence, as alleged or otherwise.
The email sent by a public relations firm on behalf of IREO said that IREO or its officials or persons associated with it did not approach the Haryana judicial officer in any manner. “The proceedings before the court were held as per the due process of law. IREO has full faith in the investigating authorities of the country to look into evidence and showcase the truth,” the email said.