The Kerala High Court, on Monday, refused stay on the FIR registered against senior advocate and the Kerala High Court Advocates Association president, Saiby Jose Kidangoor, who has been charged with collecting money from clients under the pretext of bribing high court judges to get favourable orders.
Rejecting the plea to stay the FIR, a single bench of Justice Kausar Edappath observed, “The allegations on the face of it are very serious. It is something that is maligning the entire justice delivery system.”
The court asked senior advocate S Sreekumar, who appeared for Saiby Jose as to why the petitioner was in a hurry and why he couldn’t face investigation.
The court also asked the petitioner why he was attempting to quash the FIR instead of proving his innocence by letting the law take its course.
“Let the police find out the truth. This is premature. If ultimately the police don’t get any material against you, then of course, the case against you won’t stand,” the court said.
The court further said, “You are an officer of this court and an office bearer of a responsible institution, it is also your responsibility to prove your innocence and remove the shadow that has been cast on the entire justice delivery system.”
The case was registered by the Kochi Central Police on the instructions of the state police chief under Section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 7(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The police investigation in the matter was initiated following a complaint filed by the high court registrar to the state police chief. The Kochi police commissioner had constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the case.
It has been alleged that Kidangoor took Rs 77 lakh from each of his clients on the pretext of giving judges to get favourable orders.
The Kerala High Court Vigilance wing, which conducted an inquiry into the allegation, has reportedly found prima facie sufficient material to proceed against the accused lawyer. The inquiry was conducted on a high court directive following allegations by some lawyers.
The report said the vigilance team had found several instances of Saiby collecting huge sums of money from clients in the name of Justice P V Kunhikrishnan, Justice A Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Ziyad Rahman A A, all high court judges. Though recently elected president of the Kerala High Court Advocates Association, according to the report, Kidangoor has a doubtful integrity.