Pardon Me Your Lord
A great service to the nation has been done by Justice Markandey Katju – he has awakened the nation by bringing up an example of how in 2004 political considerations compelled the highest office holders of the nation to compromise on national security by appointing a corrupt person as a judge of Madras High Court. Three senior judges in the Supreme Court at that time - the Chief Justice of India, Justice Lahoti, Justice YK Sabharwal, and Justice Ruma Pal recommended that in view of adverse IB report the judge should be discontinued as a high court judge after his two-year term was tobe over. This recommendation was sent to the central government. The judiciary was subsequently prevailed over by the Executive to change this decision.
The holders of chair of Judge of Supreme Court have probably broken their oath by performing their duty with both fear and favour. They and other High Office Holders take a oath not for media consumption but to comply with our Constitution.
For reference content of oath or affirmation to be made by the Judges of the Supreme Court of India before assuming office is reproduced below-
"I, …., having been appointed Chief Justice (or a Judge) of the Supreme Court of India do swear in the name of God/solemnly affirm that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established, that I will uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India, that I will duly and faithfully and to the best of my ability, knowledge and judgement perform the duties of my office without fear or favour, affection or ill-will and that I will uphold the Constitution and the laws."
So have the Lordships erred? And penalty for erring?
A case of judicial corruption was exposed in 2012 when the Andhra Pradesh High Court suspended additional special judge for CBI cases T. Pattabhi Rama Rao. Charged on the basis of a complain by the CBI, the special judge had allegedly taken a bribe of Rs 5 crore to grant bail to ex- Karnataka minister Gali Janardhana Reddy in a illegal mining case. The vigilance wing of the high court found the allegation to hold merit. Former CJI V.N. Khare is on record that such incidents have become rampant. Mr Khare admitted that that corruption is rampant in lower courts but said he was unaware of such instances in higher courts.
Well, don’t the judges of lower courts ultimately go to the higher courts ?
Five district judges of Andhra Pradesh were debarred from the first year Master of Law examinations after being caught copying in 2012.The cheating took place in Warangal. On a tip-off, the controller of examinations and a special squad team swooped down on the exam centre.
One judge was caught hiding the legal history textbook under his exam papers during raid by the vigilance team .Another was merrily copying from slips torn out of textbooks.Those caught were Anantapur senior civil judge M. Krishnappa, Rangareddy district senior civil judge K. Ajitasimha Rao, Warangal junior civil judge Hanumantha Rao, Bapatla senior civil judge M. Srinivasa Chary, second additional district judge Vijayanand and advocates P. Sheela Rani, K. Venkanna and V. Rajasekhar. Subsequently they were suspended. It would be interesting to know what ultimately became of these gentlemen.
Can we expect justice and fair judgements from any of the above gentlemen ? This definitely not an aberration- there were five of them !
Mr Justice P Sathasivam, ex CJI is on record having admitted that the judiciary was not untouched by corruption. His suggestion- solution for eliminating this disorder lies in the hands of the litigants. The litigants must take the responsibility for bringing into light such occurrence by making a grievance petition before the Chief Justice of respective High Courts and also to the Chief Justice of India. If a prima facie case is made out through the preliminary enquiry, then the judge should not feel hesitant to adopt the prescribed procedure under the mandate of Constitution.
So all the onus is shifted to the poor litigant who at times is secretly praying to God to get him out of the legal wranglings.
Why Judiciary ?
One may ask- why should only the judiciary be honest ? It has been argued that members of judiciary also come from the same society. They face all the travails of any common man before joining the elite club where you have Contempt of Court protection.
Some in the media have called Mr Katju a whistle blower. This term has a negative connotation. Some have predictably asked-“why is Mr Katju saying all this now?” I would rather say-“Thank you Mr Katju for raising this issue”.