The Supreme Court Thursday said corruption in judicial appointments has assumed cancerous proportions and blamed itself for “soft-pedalling” on the issue and not dealing with it firmly two decades ago.
A vacation bench of the court headed by Justice G.S. Singhvi said: “Soft-pedalling by the apex court, not today, but 20 years ago has been the root cause of corruption in recruitment.”
The situation could have been saved from being what it is today if timely action had been taken, said the bench which also included Justice C.K. Prasad.
“Do you think we will have a moral authority to make critical observations about the taint in other selection processes,” said Justice Singhvi, while hearing a matter related to appointment of clerks and office staff in Uttar Pradesh district courts.
At this, senior counsel Sunil Gupta representing one of the petitioners said these incidents of corruption in recruitment have been common.
The petitioner pointed towards the allegedly dubious conduct of district judges in the recruitment of 19 clerks, four stenographers and a driver for Barabanki and Kaushambi district courts.
In the instant case, the Allahabad High Court had gone through the answer sheets of the candidates who appeared in a test for the posts and found that the successful candidates were given marks in excess of the answers they had given.
There were allegations of mass copying in the test as well.
The high court later quashed the selections.
While apex court’s Justice Prasad said that the “whole thing was stinking of corruption”, Justice Singhvi said: “Overall things have gone wrong. It was just the case where individual candidates were involved in the stink.”
Justice Singhvi said: “The high court was more than considerate in dealing with the issue. The district judge should have gone.”
Senior counsel Gupta pleaded that candidates who succeeded in the first round too should be given another opportunity to appear in the examination even if it meant relaxing their age limit.
Justice Singhvi, however, observed that even though it would have been unfair but the high court could have given them one more chance.
The case was disposed after the court was told that in the repeat examinations the earlier successful candidates too were a given chance and some of them succeeded while others did not.
The petitioner had challenged the high court’s May 25, 2006 verdict by which it quashed the selection process for the appointment of group 3 and group 4 employees in the district courts.