M Y Eqbal to the Supreme Court, a retired principal of a Jharkhand medical college had complained to the President and Prime Minister that corporate house Tata nominated Justice Eqbal’s daughter for a discretionary quota seat in a medical college 12 years ago.
The complainant, Rai Sudhir Prasad, admits that Justice Eqbal had passed “adverse remarks” against him in a case 15 years ago. Calling this a “motivated complaint,” Justice Eqbal told The Sunday Express that the Chief Justice of India has rejected it.
Justice Eqbal became a judge of Patna High Court in May, 1996 and, after the formation of Jharkhand, became a judge of Jharkhand High Court in November 2000. He became Chief Justice of the Madras High Court in June, 2010.
In his complaint, Prasad, former principal and medical superintendent of the Patliputra Medical College & Hospital in Dhanbad, asked the President and Prime Minister to “keep his (Justice Eqbal’s) elevation as SC judge in abeyance”. He wrote to them in September.
He said the judge’s daughter, Sadaf Khan, filled an MBBS seat allotted to TISCO at the MGM Medical College in Jamshedpur.
Under an arrangement with the Tata Main Hospital in Jamshedpur, students of the MGM Medical College used to train at the TMH. In return, TISCO was allowed to recommend four students for discretionary seats at MGM Medical College — this quota no longer exists.
Sadaf Khan’s name figured in a letter J J Irani, the then managing director of TISCO, sent to the Bihar government on December 11, 2000, listing nominees for TISCO seats at the medical college.
When his comments were sought, Justice Eqbal acknowledged that his daughter’s case was recommended by the Tatas as per existing norms.
“There was a provision where people could be accommodated against reserved seats. My daughter had scored well, qualified also but could not make it to the list. So she was adjusted against a reserved seat,” Justice Eqbal said.
“I didn’t go to them seeking a favour. I didn’t go to Tatas or JJ Irani. I never met him. There was a provision against which she was adjusted.”
On Prasad’s complaint, Justice Eqbal said: “This is an attempt to malign me and the CJI is well aware of this. He has rejected this complaint. This is a motivated complaint and the complainant may have been aggrieved by my orders.”
When asked about this, Prasad admitted that the single bench of Justice Eqbal had passed “certain adverse remarks” against him in a 1997 writ petition concerning posting of a subordinate doctor to Dhanbad Medical College.
Tata Steel spokesperson Charudatta Deshpande said: “This is an old matter. As far as we can recollect, admission to Ms Sadaf Khan was given at the request of the then Bihar government against the reserved seats in the MGM Medical College.”
When contacted, Union Law Minister Ashwani Kumar said: “This is something I have only heard about but not dealt with or checked. So many such complaints against judges land up with the government but their scrutiny and establishing veracity and the whole process of selection of judges is the exclusive domain of the collegium and not the government or the law ministry.”