New Delhi, July 21: Press Council of India Chairman and former Supreme Court judge Justice Markandey Katju has made a sensational claim about existence of corruption in the judiciary. Speaking to ANI, Justice Katju said: “When I came as chief justice of the Madras High Court in November 2004, this gentleman was an additional judge. I got a lot of complaints from various people that he is indulging in corruption . I went to Chief Justice of India, Justice Lahoti, and told him that this is the information I am getting for a secret IB investigation against the additional judge. So he got a secret IB inquiry made, the report corroborated my knowledge.”
Justice Katju expressed his pain about the compromise which former chief justice Lahoti had to make in giving an extension to the corrupt judge despite an adverse Intelligence Bureau (IB) report against that judge. ”I was surprised that even after that, he was given an extension of one more year, which was not correct. When the IB report was against it, then he should not have been given any extension. A person who should not have continued, he was allowed to continue thereafter,” he said.
“I was told by some people that the additional judge was supported by a very powerful political figure in Tamil Nadu. One ally of the Congress was backing this additional judge. They objected to his removal. That Tamil Nadu ally had a strong objection to the recommendation of the three judge collegium who recommended that in view of IB report he should not be continued with,” he added.
“This is not my personal knowledge, although I was told that when prime minister Manmohan Singh was at Delhi airport to attend the UN General Assembly session, the minister from that Tamil Nadu ally had warned him that by the time he comes back, his government will fall. I am told Manmohan Singh panicked, one Senior Congress minister assured him that he will manage. That minister informed Chief Justice Lahoti, and he wrote a letter to Government of India saying that he (the controversial additional judge) should be given one more year extension.” he further added.
Katju said: ” I wonder whether he even consulted his other two senior most colleagues in the collegium. Again I am told but this has to be corrected that he wrote a letter. Then Justice Lahoti retired, after that Justice Sabharwal also extended his term and then Justice Balakrishnan made him a permanent judge, ofcourse transferring him to another High Court.” When asked about the timing of his revelation , Katju said, “Better late than never, question is not whether I should have said it earlier or not. How does the timing matter. The point is what I am saying is correct or not.”
On another question, whether political pressures happen in judicial appointments, he added, “Sometimes yes, not always, chief justice of India and chief justice of High Court will not surrender to pressure, if they are first class people. I did not surrender to pressure in Madras High Court when that political party tried to pressurize me to recommend an undeserving person for appointment as high court judges, I said nothing doing.”
Katju was all praise for present chief justice, he said “Present chief justice of India is very upright, Justice Lodha, he will not surrender to pressure. But there may be other chief justices of India who may be not upright. So, it all depends on a particular person.” When asked whether the falling standard in judiciary called for a better system be introduced scrapping the collegiums system, he added, ” Whatever system you have, what is important is who are manning the system. If those people who are manning the system are not first class then no system will work properly.”