17th January 2010
Addendum, April 14 2015
50 per cent of our judges are corrupt. Katju's full article.
I sent this article to four leading English newspapers, but none of them had the courage to publish it, as evidently they are scared of the contempt power of the judiciary. So I suppose I have to bell the cat myself. So I am posting it on facebook and on my blog justicekatju.blogspot.in.
The title of the article has been borrowed from Emile Zola's famous article ' J'accuse ' ( I accuse ) protesting against the conviction of Captain Dreyfus, an innocent French army officer who had been falsely found guilty of spying for the Germans on the basis of fabricated evidence.
When I started law practice in the Allahabad High Court in 1971 there was no corrupt judge in the High Court, or probably in any High Court in India ( though corruption had crept into the subordinate judiciary.). Later, corruption entered the High Courts, and steadily increased, so much so that in 1994, during the tenure of Justice Venkatachaliah as Chief Justice of India a large number of High Court Judges had to be transferred on the ground of corruption. In 2001 the then Chief Justice of India, Justice Bharucha, said that 20% High Court Judges in India could be corrupt. My own estimate is that today that figure could be as high as 50%.
In Raja Khan vs. U.P. Sunni Central Waqf Board ( 2011) a bench of myself and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra were constrained to say " Something is rotten in the Allahabad High Court."
Mr. Shanti Bhushan, a very senior lawyer of the Supreme Court, and former Union Law Minister, some years back filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court stating that half the previous 16 Chief Justices of India were corrupt. Since then probably more names could be added to that list.
By Justice Markandey Katju
By rejecting Mr. Shanti Bhushan's petition seeking registration of an F.I.R. against Justice C.K. Prasad for gross corruption, the Indian Supreme Court has once again sought to bury corruption by one of its own members under the carpet, forgetting that however much one may seek to conceal it, the bulge will show.
The case against Justice Prasad appeared to me quite convincing. There was a 35 hectare ( 88 acre ) Cidco prime land at Sea Wood Estate in Nerul in Navi Mumbai allegedly worth Rs. 1000 crore. This was awarded to one Mr. Mistry for a pittance of Rs.33 crore. The Bombay High Court struck this down and ordered a re-tender. An appeal against this verdict was pending before a 3 Judge bench of the Supreme Court, when Justice Prasad, heading a 2 Judge bench dragged the case to his own bench by tagging it with an unrelated criminal appeal listed before him, and decided the case in a few minutes.
Mr. Dushyant Dave, President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, in his letter to the Chief Justice of India, gave details of how Justice Prasad got the case put up before his 2 Judge bench ( when only the Chief Justice, who is the master of the roster, can order a case to be put up before a particular bench ), and decided it hurriedly, apparently in a pre-determined manner, to give colossal benefit to a party.
In his letter Mr. Dave wrote " Why was the bench headed by Justice Prasad so keen to hear the land matter in such unnatural haste in violation of judicial propriety and decorum ? ". He also added " The judgment brushed away without debate the damning High Court findings.and direction for a re-tender. So Mistry gets 35 hectares land for a song "
Prima facie this was a clear case of corruption, and so it surely deserved an investigation by the police, for which an F.I.R. was necessary. Therefore the writ petition of Mr. Bhushan praying for registering of an F.I.R. against Justice Prasad clearly deserved to be allowed.
I had earlier in an article published in Times of India written about a corrupt Judge of Madras High Court, in whose favour 3 Chief Justices of India made improper compromises because the leader of a political party in Tamilnadu was giving him protection. When this news was published the then Chief Justice of India, Justice Lodha, said that some people ( meaning obviously me ) were trying to defame the judiciary. So according to Justice Lodha, and many others of his thinking, corruption by Judges does not defame the judiciary, but exposing that corruption defames it ! Strange logic.
Subsequently I was vindicated when a letter by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh supporting that corrupt judge surfaced, and also by the statement of Justice Ruma Pal, who was at the relevant time in the 3 Judge Collegium of the Supreme Court, in my support.
The same logic was applied by the 2 Judge bench headed by Justice Deepak Mishra which said that ordering an F.i.R. would be ' opening dangerous doors '. In fact this 2 Judge bench shockingly violated judicial discipline by not following the 5 Judge Constitution bench decision of the Supreme Court in Lalita Kumari vs. Govt of U.P. which had categorically held ( in paragraph 111 of its verdict ) that registration of an F.I.R. in such a case was mandatory.
Justice Marlapalle of the Bombay High Court who passed the order appealed against said that if the contents of Dushyant Dave's letter to the CJI were correct he would hang his head in shame.
I now therefore make the following accusations :
I accuse the Indian judiciary of repeatedly burying corruption by its own members under the carpet.
I accuse it of being hypocritical by speaking against corruption by politicians and bureaucrats, but deliberately protecting its own corrupt brethren.
I accuse it of using, or threatening to use the Contempt of Court Act as a weapon to terrorize people who speak against its corruption or some of its grossly improper verdicts, but refusing to take action for contempt against the high and mighty e.g. in P.N.Duda's case , A.I.R. 1988 S.C.1208 where a Union Minister had said that the Supreme Court sympathized with zamindars and bank magnates, and that " FERA violaters, bride burners and a whole horde of reactionaries have found their haven in the Supreme Court ", and that Supreme Court Judges have unconcealed sympathy for the haves. No action was taken against the Union Minister. Mr. Nariman, the eminemt lawyer wondered whether if this statement had been made been made by an ordinary citizen he would have been let off ?
I accuse the present CJI Dattu of shameless sycophancy in praising the Prime Minister, which is reminiscient of the shameless s letter sent by Justice P.N. Bhagwati to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi praising her.
And in the case of Justice C.K. Prasad, I accuse the bench headed by Justice Deepak Mishra of shielding, even by shockingly violating judicial discipline, a Judge who so patently gave a corrupt verdict.
Not to be outdone by the politicians, India's judges are often alleged to be corrupt. This blog post, periodically updated, keeps record of public disclosures about corruption in the Indian judiciary. The Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/group.php?gid=40507761800 discusses his issue further.
Update 10 May 2012. Allegations against former CJ of India.
Update 7 March 2010: On my trip to India this time I was extremely disappointed to learn from two highly experienced and reputed lawyers whom I met that even the Supreme Court judges are almost all 'buyable'. Some names were bandied about that I now forget, but the point being made by these people was that the Indian justice system has now gone the way of the Indian political system. Since I don't have direct evidence of this matter I'll make note of it here as a possibility that will need significant investigation in the coming year/s.
Incompetence in the judiciary: here
NOW FOR THE RECORD
(Please send in new and other reports on this topic through your comments. Personal instances are also welcome. Let's keep documenting the truth.)
PF scam: CBI indicts ex-SC judge, 23 other judges
Punjab judge got Rs 15 lakh: Governor
Punjab judge got Rs 15 lakh: Governor Ramesh Vinayak and Pawan Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh, January 17, 2010
CNN-IBN exclusive: K G Balakrishnan on judiciary (23 April 2010)
http://ibnlive.in.com/videos/96177/cnnibn-exclusive-k-g-balakrishnan-on-judiciary.html. K G Balakrishnan says judges will be harassed if asked to reveal their assets.
Extract from a press release on a conference on perjury
TRUTH is one of the biggest assets of a nation. Any STATE that tolerates suppression of truth, allowing falsehoods to spread its tentacles in its law enforcing agencies is likely to COLLAPSE. Proliferation of perjury in the courts which could lead to suffering of innocents must immediately be rooted out by Govt. and Judiciary.
The main pillars of democracy, i.e., the Legislative and the Judiciary have for long been mute spectators to the lies perpetuated by litigants and witnesses in courts. To highlight these wrongs, the Legal Cell of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, held a National Seminar on 24.4.10 titled ;
PERJURY : Perspectives and Responses in the Indian Legal System.
EXCERPTS :- In his inaugural address, Mr. Justice Aftab Alam, Hon’ble Judge of the Supreme Court of India, mentioned a few cases of perjury. He expressed his deep anguish and pain at the lack of steps initiated to control this vicious crime being committed fearlessly and regularly in the courts.
One of the cases of rampant perjury that was mentioned at this seminar was that of a water seller called Paniwala. Paniwala approached the Supreme Court, seeking relief against a police order for his externment from Delhi. He informed the court that he had been used as a stock witness by Delhi Police in approximately three thousand cases. When he declined to continue to depose as directed by the police, they registered several cases against him and ordered his externment from Delhi. On the orders of the Supreme Court Paniwala’s externment from Delhi was withdrawn. However, no re-trial of any of the cases he had deposed in (evidently as a false witness) was ordered.
Nobody knows how many innocent persons in these three thousand cases may have been convicted on the basis of false testimony. Yet, no court has issued directives for retrial or even an investigation into these cases. It shows that the Judicial system, the last pillar of HOPE in a civilized society has thus become “HOPELESS” for those without money, power or influence.
It is an established fact that the Judiciary depends on inputs (written statements, evidence) and other material facts to decide the merits of a case. These are thoroughly analyzed by Judges and judgment is pronounced. An old saying goes “garbage in, garbage out.” If the Judges allow false testimony to be recorded as evidence, can true Justice really be delivered in such cases?
Judicial officers are very astute. When unscrupulous lawyers tell their clients to make false statements or submit false affidavits, experienced judges can see through this game being played in their courts. However, one rarely notices courts ordering the registration of a case of perjury. Inaction against wrong doers will invariably encourage others to commit such illegal acts in the courts. Serious consideration needs to be given to the fact that the initiation of criminal cases against perjurers would result in long-term gains. Fear of registration of cases for perjury will discourage false litigants / witnesses thus leading to a reduction of cases in courts.
Major reason for delay in justice delivery is that valuable and limited time of judges must be spent in recording the statements of witnesses/litigants, followed by their cross examinations. Substantial amount of time will be saved on both these counts if false witnesses are controlled. Witnesses called by litigants to support their case by deposing falsely will disappear when they realize that such acts could land them in jail. Almost all go scot-free at present. Perjury is like putting the hand brake on while driving the judicial car. Similarly delayed justice acts as a hand brake on the economic development of the country.
The Law Commission was established in 1954 to make Justice “Simple, Speedy, Cheap and Effective”. Crores must have been spent so far but delay in justice delivery has increased in the past 60 yrs. Rampant perjury which has been increasing due to lack of harsh steps against this criminal act has aggravated the problem and today over thirty million cases are pending.
Registered NGO ‘COMMON MAN’ which joined hands with JMI to organize this seminar recommends that the following two suggestions be acted upon on a time bound program in letter and spirit after suitable alterations required by Govt. / Judicial norms. Some harsh steps will have to be taken if the GOI and the Judiciary wish to give speedy justice to citizens.
1) Summary trials should be held for those who commit perjury, no matter how powerful or influential they may be, those found guilty must be punished.
2) Every court must follow directions of Honorable Supreme Court, issued time and again.
“At any stage of trial, if it comes to the notice of the court that a litigant, who has come to the court seeking relief, has not been truthful, deliberately withheld certain facts / information, his / her case should be thrown out at the threshold.”
Indian Jurisprudence propounded the doctrine of “DHARMA RAKSHITA DHARMA” (you preserve righteousness and righteousness will preserve you).
Respect of Judiciary emerges from their expertise to sniff out TRUTH from a bundle of lies. Power of Judiciary does not lie in convicting criminals nor punishing for contempt BUT in the trust, faith and confidence of common man of getting justice by application of same norms, for poor or rich, by the courts.