The case of former Uttar Pradesh minister Gayatri Prajapati keeps getting murkier. Now it has been revealed in the media that the rape accused, who was caught after a month-long run and then, surprisingly, given bail by additional district and sessions judge OP Mishra, had paid a Rs 10 crore bribe for his bail.

An investigation ordered by Allahabad high court Chief Justice Dilip B Bhosale revealed this gory truth and it also revealed that there was a deep rooted conspiracy within the judiciary in securing this “deal” for Prajapati.

The bail issue has created a major hue and cry among legislators and within the entire judiciary, whose very credibility was put to test in this one decision by judge Mishra. It has been revealed that not only Mishra, but other senior judges were also involved this “deal.”

The probe did not stop at this, according to the report. It revealed that there was high level corruption even in the posting of judges to courts handling cases such as rape and murder. It is like a Pandora’s Box being suddenly opened.

The report details how Mishra, who was just three weeks away from retirement, was posted as POCSO (protection of children from sexual offences) judge on April 7. The granting of bail came on April 25. Justice Bhosale did not pull his punches when he said in his report that the appointment of the errant judge to the sensitive post was done by removing a judge who was “handling the assignment efficiently” for a year. And this was also done bypassing established norms.

The probe was conducted by the IB which established that the Rs 10 crore bribe was given and accepted. The IB also gave a detailed breakup of the bribe. Of the total, Rs 5 crore was shared between three lawyers who acted as middlemen and another Rs 5 crore was paid to judge Mishra and district judge Rajendra Singh. Singh was the judge who had posted Mishra to the sensitive court.

Some action has already been taken again the judge. According to the report, Singh has already been questioned and his elevation to the post of a high court judge has been withdrawn by the Supreme Court collegium, pending further action.

The media report quotes from Justice Bhosale’s confidential report on the issue. He has reportedly said: “Laxmi Kant Rathaur, who was assigned POCSO jurisdiction on July 18, 2016, was doing very well. There was absolutely no justification or reason to change him suddenly and appoint OP Mishra as POCSO judge on April 7, 2017, more so when he was about to retire within three weeks.”

The Prajapati case had been a smear in the face of all Samajwadi Party leaders just before the UP assembly elections and now it is a smear on the face of the judiciary.  It was only after coaxing from the apex court that the police had registered an FIR against Prajapati on February 17. He remained an absconder for nearly a month before being arrested on March 15. His bail application fell at Mishra’s court and on April 25 he was granted bail to everybody’s surprise.

Mishra seems to be an old hand at corruption. Justice Bhosale’s confidential report says the “integrity of OP Mishra was doubtful and he did not enjoy good reputation”. The entire deal was finalised in the judge’s chamber, following a series of meetings.

India Legal Bureau