Press Council of India Chairman and former Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju has made shocking allegations of corruption in the judiciary. Katju has alleged that a District Judge in Tamil Nadu was elevated to an Additional Judge of the Madras High Court despite charges of corruption against him.
Katju has alleged that the tainted judge had been directly appointed as a District Judge in Tamil Nadu and during his career as the district judge, there were as many as eight adverse entries against him recorded by various portfolio judges of the Madras High Court.
Katju has alleged that one acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, by a single stroke of his pen, deleted all those adverse entries and consequently he became an Additional Judge of the High Court. He has said that the corrupt judge had solid support of a very important political leader of Tamil Nadu.
Katju has said that former CJI RC Lahoti made a compromise by allowing the corrupt judge to continue despite the adverse Intelligence Bureau report against him.
This was when the UPA was in power with the DMK, its ally, in power in Tamil Nadu. “This is a glaring example of political interference in the appointment of judges,” Katju said.
Katju has also alleges that the former Chief Justices of India allowed the tainted judge to continue despite complaints against him.
Katju has said that as a judge was elevated to the High Court while being a District Judge, he had granted bail to that political leader.
Speaking to media, Katju said, “I got information when I was the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court about the corruption of this judge. I wanted the Chief Justice to do an IB inquiry. I got a call from the CJI that the chargers were correct. After this two-year term as Additional Judge, he should not have got extension.”
When asked why he has come up with the allegations now, Katju said, “Better late than never. It is not important if I have disclosed this now. What is important is that the information is correct.”
Reacting to the allegations, former Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan told media, “We can say so many things in hindsight without naming the judge and the political party. His (the judge in question) appointment was challenged and please read Justice Pasayat’s judgement. If a judge faces charges of being close to the government, he has to be transferred out.”
Katju wrote in his blog [justicekatju.blogspot.com] that the judge had “solid support” from an influential politician in Tamil Nadu, adding the judge had once granted bail to the leader.
Katju also said he had requested former Chief Justice of India Ramesh Chandra Lahoti to conduct a secret IB inquiry against the judge. The probe, according to Katju, found “enough material about the Judge’s corruption”.
But, the judge “got another 1 year appointment as an Additional Judge”, according to the Press Council of India chairman.
“I later learnt how this happened. The Supreme Court Collegium consists of 5 seniormost Judges for recommending names for appointment as a Supreme Court Judge, and 3 senior most Judges for dealing with High Courts (sic),” Katju wrote.
The three senior judges — “Justice Lahoti, Justice Sabarwal, and Justice Ruma Pal” — had recommended the judge should be removed since his two-year term was over.
After the proposal was sent to the then United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, an ally backing the “corrupt Judge” opposed the move, alleged Katju.
According to Katju, former prime minister Manmohan Singh “panicked” after being told by the ministers of “that party of Tamil Nadu” that his government would fall.
Katju said a senior Congress minister jumped into firefighting and told Justice Lahoti that “there would be a crisis if that Additional Judge” was discontinued.