Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju, who alleged that three Chief Justices of India made “improper compromises” during UPA rule in allowing a judge under corruption cloud to continue in office, on Tuesday posed six questions to one them–Justice R C Lahoti–on the issue.
Katju asked if after receiving the adverse IB report against the Additional Judge, Lahoti, who was then Chief Justice of India, called a meeting of the three-Judge Supreme Court Collegium, consisting of himself, Justice Y K Sabharwal and Justice Ruma Pal, and the Collegium, having perused the IB report recommended to the Government of India not to extend the 2-year-term of that Additional Judge?
Katju, Chairman of the Press Council of India, put the posers to Lahoti on his blog.
On timing of his statement on Monday, he said, “Some people have commented about the timing of my statement. What happened was that some Tamilians had commented on Facebook that I am posting several matters on my Facebook post, so I should also post some of my experiences in Madras High Court.
“Then I started posting about my experiences there, and it was at time I remembered this experience too, and posted it,” he said.
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Katju asked, “Is it, or is it not, correct that after that recommendation of the 3 Judge Collegium of the Supreme Court was sent to the Government of India, he (Justice Lahoti), on his own, without consulting his 2 other Supreme Court Collegium colleagues, wrote a letter to the Government of India asking the Government to give another 1 year term as Additional Judge to the concerned Judge?”
The allegation on how an unnamed additional judge of Madras High Court was given extension at the instance of UPA-I government owing to pressure from an ally, a “Tamil Nadu party”, apparently DMK, and then confirmed as a permanent judge led to an uproar on Monday in Parliament by AIADMK MPs even as questions were raised by parties like Congress on its timing.
Katju further said on his blog, “If indeed the IB reported, after an enquiry, that the Judge was indulging in corruption, why did he (Justice Lahoti) recommend to the Government of India to give that corrupt Judge another term of 1 year as Additional Judge in the High Court?”
Katju, who became the Chief Justice of Madras High Court in November 2004, had told TV channels on Monday, “These three former CJIs made improper compromises. Justice Lahoti who started it, then Justice Sabharwal and then Justice Balakrishnan. These are CJIs who can surrender. Is a CJI going to surrender to political pressure or not going to surrender to political pressure?”
Balakrishnan rejected the allegations as “completely baseless and not factually correct”.
Katju, who was a Supreme Court judge from 2006 to 2011, was appointed as the PCI Chairman on October 5, 2011 and is due to retire on October 4, this year.
He started his blog posting on Tuesday by saying Lahoti, when contacted by some media people about his statement which was published on my blog and in a daily on Monday, generally remarked that he has never done anything wrong in his life.
Katju said he (Lahoti) has not gone into any specifics, “so let me put him some specific questions:
“Is it, or is it not, correct that I first wrote him a letter from Chennai, stating that there were serious allegations of corruption about an Additional Judge of Madras High Court, and therefore he (Justice Lahoti) should get a secret intelligence enquiry held against that Additional Judge, and thereafter I personally met Justice Lahoti at Delhi and again requested for a secret IB enquiry against the Additional Judge about whom I had received several complaints, and from several sources, that he was indulging in corruption?
“Is it, or is it not, correct that on my request Justice Lahoti ordered a secret IB enquiry against that Judge?
“Is it, or is it not correct, that a few weeks after I personally met him in Delhi and then returned to Chennai, he telephoned me from Delhi (while I was at Chennai) and told me that the IB, after thorough enquiry, gave a report that indeed the Judge was indulging in corruption?”