My inference was wrong, says Supreme Court judge

NEW DELHI, MARCH 17. Justice S.N. Variava of the Supreme Court today set at rest the controversy of reported pressure on him to change the trial judge in the fodder scam case, involving the Railway Minister, Lalu Prasad. He clarified that there was absolutely no pressure on him to change the trial judge.

Mr. Justice Variava said that his original inference that there was an attempt to influence him was wrong. He said: "The person concerned has since clarified to me that the enquiry was just an academic inquiry. I am satisfied that the explanation is correct and my original inference that there was an attempt to influence me was wrong."

"No pressure"

The judge said the clarification was to clear up the misunderstanding following his disclosure on Tuesday that someone had approached him inquiring whether the judge could be replaced.

"There has been no such pressure," he said.

Referring to his observations in the court on Tuesday, Mr. Justice Variava said: "It had been indirectly inquired whether the High Court could transfer the Special Judge trying the case and the reply had been that the High Court could do what it wants and we would do what we think is necessary. Counsel had then interjected that pressures were being brought on judges."

"Because of the large-scale coverage by the media and the consequent controversy, it has become necessary for this court to clarify that it was not mentioned or implied by me to have the Special Judge changed," Mr. Justice Variava said.

The judge's observation on Tuesday came during the hearing of a petition filed by the BJP MP, Sushil Kumar Modi, and the JD (U) MP, Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lallan, seeking cancellation of bail to Mr. Prasad and his wife and former Bihar Chief Minister, Rabri Devi, in the fodder scam and the disproportionate assets cases on the ground that they were using their position to influence the case.

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