The Supreme Court collegium headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) J S Khehar has recalled a recommendation for the appointment of an Allahabad high court judge just before it was to be forwarded by the Centre to President Pranab Mukherjee for his assent last week.

The intervention took place after the chief justice of the Allahabad HC, Dilip B Bhosale, acted on an Intelligence Bureau (IB) inquiry report that the Lucknow district judge in question and his associates had allegedly received large bribes to grant bail to former UP minister Gayatri Prajapati.

Prajapati was arrested on March 15 after being on the run for more than a month following the registration of an FIR against him in a rape case. Though the SC refused to stay Prajapati's arrest when he pleaded "not to be arrested", Om Prakash Mishra, additional sessions judge in a Lucknow court, granted bail to the three accused, including Prajapati, on April 25. Disturbed by serious allegations against Mishra and some seniors involved in the bail order, Bhosale ordered an IB inquiry. The probe revealed the involvement of not just the POCSO judge but also the district judge of Lucknow and three advocates, all office-bearers of the bar.

According to the IB report, all the five - two judges and three members of the Lucknow bar - acted in concert and conspired to ensure granting of bail to Prajapati. Since the district judge in question was cleared by the SC collegium for elevation as an HC judge, Bhosale asked IB to re-verify the allegations. A second check by IB strengthened the case as Bhosale was told that the "information given to him was accurate and actionable" and there was no doubt on the involvement of the district judge in the transaction of "business".

Prajapati had contested the 2017 UP elections from Amethi on an SP ticket and lost. Police filed a chargesheet against him and six others last week for the gang rape of a woman and molestation of her minor daughter.

The Allahabad HC had earlier stayed the bail order of the POCSO court granted to Prajapati and two others. The former minister continues to be behind bars.

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