Going full throttle against alleged corruption in higher judiciary, Press Council of India Chairperson Markandey Katju on Sunday named former CJI S H Kapadia as another Chief Justice who was aware of the rot in the echelon.
His latest blog post also claimed that former CJI R C Lahoti feared that exposure of corruption in judiciary would give politicians a handle to set up a National Judicial Commission after scrapping the collegium system.
Days after posting a blog in which he questioned the conduct of three former CJIs in helping a “corrupt” judge in Madras High Court continue, Katju in his latest blog claimed CJI Kapadia also failed to take action against a “corrupt” judge in the Allahabad High Court. Katju said Kapadia received several complaints against this judge, who went on to become the acting chief justice of the HC.
“Justice Kapadia requested me to find out the true facts about that judge. At that time, I had to go to Allahabad, my home town, for attending a function and while there I contacted some lawyers I knew, and got three mobile numbers of the agents of this judge through whom he was taking money,” alleged Katju. “On returning to Delhi I gave these three mobile numbers to Justice Kapadia, and suggested he get these numbers tapped through intelligence agencies.”
“About 2 months thereafter, Justice Kapadia told me that he had done as I had suggested, and the conversations tapped revealed the corruption of this judge,” he said. “After this, Justice Kapadia should have called this judge to Delhi and asked for his resignation… but he did no such thing,” Katju wrote in his blog.
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“Most Chief Justices of India are reluctant to expose corruption in the judiciary thinking that this will defame the judiciary, and so they prefer to bury corruption under the carpet, not realizing that the bulge under the carpet will show. Some think that exposing corruption defames the judiciary. My reply to such people is: Does corruption by Judges defame the judiciary, or does exposing such corruption defame it?” questioned Katju. Kapadia was CJI from May 2010 to September 2012 while Katju was a SC judge from April 2006 to September 2011.
In his first explosive blog post on corruption in judiciary, Katju had said how Justices R C Lahoti, Y K Sabharwal and K G Balakrishnan allegedly made “improper compromises” in allowing the judge, against whom there were several allegations of corruption, to continue in office.
Former CJI Lahoti, who has refuted the charges, finds mention in the latest blog too. Katju said when he was the Acting Chief Justice of Allahabad HC in 2004, he had given to Lahoti a list of five judges of the HC, “who were doing shocking things”.
When Justice Lahoti asked him what should be done, Katju suggested if permitted he would have all these judges’ entry banned in the HC premises. “When I said this, Justice Lahoti said: Please do not do this, because then the politicians will get a handle, and then they will set up a National Judicial Commission,” said Katju. The five judges were later transferred to another HC. “But is transfer a solution? Such corrupt judges should be sacked, but this is not done to avoid defaming the judiciary,” said Katju.