Corruption Here an Open Secret, Says this State High Court Judge, Chief Justice Withdraws All Work from Him

Chief Justice of High Court of Patna has withdrawn judicial work from the senior-most Judge in the HC after the latter delivered an order on how the judiciary in Bihar had plunged deep into corruption.

“Corruption in this HC is (an) open secret,” Justice Rakesh Kumar had held in his 20-page order delivered on Wednesday. Hours later, the chief justice withdrew all judicial work from him & asked him to wait in his chamber for allotment of work.

The Judge implored upon the Chief Justice of India & the Supreme Court Collegium to take cognisance of the corrupt practices plaguing the judicial system at all levels in Bihar.

The Judge recorded on Wednesday, “After my elevation as Judge, I started to notice that senior judges were buttering Chief Justice. Initially, I thought why such action was shown by the senior judges, but after some time, I could gather that such actions were being taken to get their favourite or caste man elevated as a judge or do some favour to corrupt judicial officers”.

Justice Kumar presented an illustration of four judicial officers who had allegations petitions ranging from 11 to 21 but, the Judge said, they were all let off with mild punishments & remained in judiciary although they should have been dismissed in the best interest of the system.

HC quashes order giving divorce to husband exparte

Observing that a court should use its discretion, the Bombay High Court has set aside an order of a civil judge in Baramati, who refused to condone the delay made by a woman in an application urging to dismiss a divorce decree granted to her husband ex-parte.

Saying that this was a fit case where the concerned judge should have deemed proper to exercise his jurisdiction, Justice Roshan Dalvi recently quashed the order of Baramati Civil Judge passed on July 9, 2004, refusing to condone the delay made by the woman in making an application.

The High Court judge observed that the concerned judge ought to have heard her application for setting aside the decree of divorce on merits. “The delay if any, which has been refused to be condoned is seen to be deserving of condonation and hence condoned”, Justice Dalvi said.

The High Court asked the concerned judge to expeditiously hear the plea of the wife for setting aside the decree of divorce dated December 31, 2001, on merits.

The woman, Snhel alias Nandini Ghante, pleaded that she was not served at her last known residence. She said that this fact had been admitted by the respondent husband in his cross-examination, which has been stated in her application.

“Once it is seen that the petition was not served at the last known address of the petitioner, the divorce decree would be required to be reconsidered,” Justice Dalvi observed.

The judge noted that the divorce decree was passed on December 31, 2001. Husband, Dattatraya Ghante, has since remarried. The right of wife to claim maintenance may yet be not affected, even despite the remarriage of the husband.

“Such merits of the case are most material to bear in mind by a court whilst considering the right of a party in having the matter re-agitated on the ground of want of service and in considering the validity of decree of divorce in the first place,” Justice Dalvi remarked.

The court noted that the divorce decree having been passed was served upon the woman on June 14, 2002. Hence she obtained the knowledge of the decree from that date. It is her case that she got a mental shock and was hospitalised from June 15, 2002 to June 27, 2002. However, she had not produced any hospital records.



‘High court judge can’t probe Kashmir custodial death’

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has turned down the state government’s request that a sitting judge of the court probe the custodial death of National Conference (NC) worker Sayeed Muhammad Yousuf, official sources said on Monday. According to sources, chief justice KM Kalifullah has told the state government that it is not within his competence to nominate a sitting judge of the high court to probe the death.

“As per the ruling of the Supreme Court, it up to the Supreme Court and the president to do so,” the government has been told, said a source.

The state government on Sep 30 requested the high court to spare a sitting judge to probe the death of Yousuf who died here under mysterious circumstances.

Yousuf has been accused of taking a bribe of Rs 1.18 crore from two middle-rung NC leaders in return for getting one of them a ministerial berth and the other a legislator’s job.

He was picked up for questioning from chief minister Omar Abdullah’s residence by the crime branch of the local police and allegedly died in police custody Sep 30.

Police said he died of cardiac arrest while the deceased’s relatives allege he had been tortured to death in custody.

Judges oppose move to appoint Mumbai’s ITAT head as HC judge

The Delhi Judicial Service Association (DJSA) has opposed the recommendation of the High Court to appoint R V Iswar, President of Mumbai’s Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT), as Additional Judge from service cadre, saying he “never held any judicial office” here.

The move of DJSA to write to the President and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on the issue assume significance as the special bench of the Delhi High Court recently dismissed the petition of a bar leader against the recommendation of its collegium to elevate Iswar as a judge.

The bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Manmohan had justified the recommendation of the collegium, consisting five senior-most judges of High Court including Chief Justice Dipak Misra, saying Iswar’s past experience as a lawyer made him eligible for the elevation.

“It is not possible to accept the contention of the petitioner (Delhi High Court Bar Association secretary D K Sharma) that the past experience of a person as an advocate gets apportioned or washed away when an advocate is appointed as a member of a tribunal,” it had said.

The judges’ association also wrote to the Ministry of Law and Justice and Leaders of Opposition of both Houses of the Parliament, citing six reasons for opposing the recommendation to elevate Iswar.

Seeking reconsideration of the recommendation, the DJSA said, “Iswar does not fulfil eligibility criteria required for appointment of High Court Judge as prescribed in Article 217 (2) (a) of the Constitution because he has never held any judicial office in the territory of India leave aside in the state of Delhi.”

Comprehensive law needed for judges: Parliamentary panel

A parliamentary panel on Tuesday stressed the need for a “comprehensive law on judges’ appointmenst”, noting the present draft of the bill only addresses the issue “partially”. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law and Justice and Personnel submitted its report on the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, 2010 in both Houses of Parliament. The bill was tabled in Lok Sabha in 2010.

According to the committee, “the current bill deals with the problem partially” and does not address the “systematic lacunae”.

About a National Judicial Commission as an alternative to replace the collegium system, panel chairman Abhishek Manu Singhvi said he had a neutral position in the matter.

The committee thinks the government has to move beyond “an incremental approach” and “give urgent and due thought to a holistic legislation” encompassing the appointment process to ensure judicial accountability, he said.

The committee further recommended a clause in the bill should be expanded “by specifically mentioning that judges should restrain themselves from making unwarranted comments” in open court.

“While judges were free to make observations as part of their judgements, the recommendation suggests they should avoid making comments which are non-judgemental,” Singhvi said.

The panel also suggested inclusion of two MPs – one each from the two houses of parliament – to become part of the proposed National Judicial Oversight Committee that will be authorised to initiate probes into corruption allegations against senior judges.

The committee said that the scrutiny committee will be in place in the Supreme Court and in each of the 21 high courts and would submit reports within three months to the Oversight Committee.

Other recommendations of the committee include in camera initial investigations by a scrutiny panel on a complaint against a Supreme Court or high court judge.

The report said that such an arrangement was necessary to ensure that the judge in question does not face unwarranted defamation in the initial stage of investigation.

The committee also suggested accountability of media in relation to divulging the information while complaints are under investigation. Singhvi clarified that this was not intended to be a gag order on the press.

Cash-for-judge scam: Former high court judge summoned

A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court Saturday summoned former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge Nirmal Yadav in the cash-for-judge scam that had rocked this union territory in August 2008.

CBI Special Judge Ritu Tagore asked Yadav to appear before court May 18. Four other accused in the case have also been summoned on that date.

The CBI had filed a charge sheet against Yadav for corruption, conspiracy, destroying evidence and creation of false evidence in the court March 4 – the day Yadav, posted at Uttarakhand High Court, retired from service.

Besides the charge sheet, the CBI had also submitted 126 pages of documentary evidence in the case.

President Pratibha Patil had given sanction for the prosecution of justice Nirmal Yadav in February.

The scam came to light after a packet containing Rs.1.5 million in cash was delivered at the Sector 11 residence of high court judge Nirmaljit Kaur Aug 13, 2008. The judge filed a complaint and later the (then) Haryana additional advocate general Sanjeev Bansal, a property dealer Rajiv Gupta and Delhi-based hotelier Ravinder Singh Bhasin were arrested.

Bansal and Gupta told the police that the money was actually meant for Judge Yadav. They claimed that another packet containing Rs.1.5 million was separately delivered to Yadav at her Sector 24 official residence later on.

Yadav went on leave after her name figured in this bribery scandal. She was later transferred to the Uttarakhand High Court.

Bansal, Gupta, Bhasin and Delhi-based property dealer Nirmal Singh have also been summoned May 18.