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Corruption in higher judiciary: Katju raises valid points


After coming across a tweet, PollUpdates.com pursued the link to find a blog post of Justice Markandeya Katju, former Chief Justice of India and a respected figure in Indian judiciary, about a dossier he had received making serious charges against CJI H L Dattu. Here is his blog post:

Investigate Dattu
This is an email I received today from the Economic Times

Date: 12 May 2015 8:43:44 pm IST
To: justicekatju@gmail.com
Subject: Request-response required-Urgent

1-The Economic Times is working on a story on Chief Justice of India
HL Dattu. I have been given to understand that a complaint regarding
assets of Justice Dattu and his wife was forwarded to you. May i
request you to share details of follow up action, if any, and your
views on the said complaint.
2-The complaint was signed by Pt Narendra Sharma, he had attached all
the relevant documents, and in August 2014, forwarded it to you for
necessary action.
i shall be extremely grateful, if you could forward your comments, on
the above mentioned issues, at the earliest
Senior Assistant Editor
The Economic Times Delhi

Here is my reply :

From: mark_katju@yahoo.co.in
Sent: Wednesday, May 13, 2015 7:05
To: markandey katju

Dear Sir,
I am in receipt of your email.
At present I am in Vancouver, and am likely to return to India in mid-July.
I did indeed receive a dossier from someone containing documentary proof of a large amount of properties amassed by Justice Dattu during his judicial career. This was before he became CJI. I got several copies made of the dossier, and gave a copy each to Mr.Shanti Bhushan, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court and his son Prashant, Dhananjaya Mahapatra of Times of India ( who came to my house to collect a copy, and with whom I had a detailed discussion about the matter ), and journalists of Indian Express and The Hindu. I also sent one copy to Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, the then Union Law Minister. I suggest you ask some of these people for the dossier as they may be having their copy which I gave them. Regrettably, none of them did anything in the matter, although I only requested them to investigate because if the allegations in the dossier were correct Dattu should not be made the CJI
I do not have a copy of the dossier with me at present, but I have it with me in my flat in Noida, which I can give you on my return. However, my recollection of the contents of the dossier, which I had read carefully, is as follows :
There are a large number of plots in or near Bangalore purchased in the name of Justice Dattu’s wife Gayathri. Photocopies of the sale deeds by which they were purchased are in the dossier. These sale deeds mention the name of Justice Dattu’s wife Gayathri, but interestingly enough describe her as daughter of Guravayoor ( probably her father’s name ), and not wife of Justice Dattu. This is strange, since the plots were purchased long after her marriage. Was this done to conceal these transactions ?

Most of these plots were purchased in violation of the provisions of the Karnatak Land Reforms Act, which state that a person having family income of over Rs. 2 lacs per year cannot buy land in the rural areas of Karnataka. At the time of purchase these plots were all technically in the rural area, though in reality they had become part of Bangalore as the city ( like all cities in India ) had expanded. Justice Dattu’s income at the time of purchase was over Rs. 15 lacs per year ( the approximate salary of High Court Judges ), and so his wife illegally purchased these plots.

3. Justice Dattu has built a palatial house in Bangalore, allegedly on 1200 sq.m. land Possibly that house itself would be worth Rs 50 crore or more. Someone sent me photos of that house by email, and I will try to retrieve them and send them to you.

One plot of land in Bangalore was allotted to Justice Dattu, though it could not have been allotted to him because under the relevant scheme such plots could only be allotted to an employee of the Karnataka High Court. A High Court Judge is not an employee ( he holds a Constitutional post, and is no one’s employee ). Justice Dattu was a Karnataka High Court Judge at that time.

One plot of land in Bangalore was allotted to Justice Dattu under a scheme which had a term that a person already having a plot of land in Bangalore could not be allotted a plot. Justice Dattu already had plots in Bamgalore, either in his own name or in his wife or children’s name at that time.

Several other illegalities allegedly committed by Dattu ( which I do not remember at present ) were mentioned in the dossier, which consisted of about 100 pages, many being photocopies of sale deeds and other documents.
On receiving the dossier I spoke on telephone to Mr. Shanti Bhushan, who sent his son Prashant to my house to collect a copy of the dossier. I had got several copies of the dossier made, and I gave one copy to Prashant when he came to my house, and also discussed the allegations therein.The next day Mr. Shanti Bhushan telephoned me and said the allegations against Dattu in the dossier were very serious. I then told him that in that case the Committee on Judicial Accountability ( COJA ), which consists of senior lawyers of the Supreme Court as well as retired Judges, and of which he and Prashant are members, should hold an enquiry, and at the same time write to the President and Prime Minister not to make Dattu a substantive CJI but only Acting CJI until the enquiry was over. If the allegations in the dossier were found false then he could be confirmed as CJI. However, regrettably, nothing was done by Mr. Shanti Bhushan or the others to whom I had sent copies of the dossier.
I may before concluding add that I have no personal grudge against Dattu, and my only motive in doing what I did was to have upright people on top posts in the judiciary. I only wanted an enquiry into the allegations in the dossier, and I did not say that the allegations were necessarily correct ( though the documentary proof in the dossier does indicate serious illegalities ). But people, including journalists to whom I gave copies of the dossier, were not even willing to investigate. is the media scared ?
Justice Katju

Click here to read Justice Katju’s blog

Chief Justice of India H L Dattu is known for his honesty and commitment to the legal profession. PollUpdates highly respects all honest professionals including judges. We have no intention to disrespect or malign anyone. By publishing this article, we want the truth should come out and strengthen India’s system of governance.