More VIPs have trooped through the court of Additional Sessions Judge Vidya Bhushan Gupta than any other, from the late kisan leader Charan Singh and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang to economic offenders like Harshad Mehta, MS Shoes promoter Pawan Sachdeva, former Planning Commission member V. Krishnamurthy and Maruti Udyog's Managing Director R.C. Bhargava. And more recently, the entire gamut of hawala scam-tainted politicians.
One reason, perhaps, why the judge of the special CBI court makes it a point to stress that the rule of law "should be applied equally to everyone". In the hawala case, he pulled up the CBI for following "a policy of pick and choose in arresting one set of accused and not arresting the other set of accused. Said he: "It is not that our country has two sets of law, one for highly-placed public servants and the other for ordinary citizens".
Ironically, he has not been able to practice this avowed commitment to uniformity in applying the law, say lawyers at Delhi's Tis Hazari district courts. They point out that while Gupta sent bureaucrats involved in the hawala case to jail, politicians have been granted bail. Said one lawyer: "Members of one class, be it politicians or bureaucrats, are being treated equally, but different classes are being being treated differently".
Gupta's votaries point out that he had no option but to grant bail to the hawala tainted politicians; he was merely following the lead of the Delhi High Court which had approved bail for BJP President L.K. Advani. Besides, the CBI did not oppose anyone's bail plea. "For Gupta ji , it must have gone against the grain to give anyone bail, especially because the CBI is yet to recover the alleged bribes," commented one lawyer.
Gupta, 47, is considered a tough judge who rarely grants bail in cases of graft and has...