A day after former chief justice of India RC Lahoti denied having received any letter highlighting corruption charges against a Madras high court judge from justice Markandey Katju, the former SC judge on Saturday reiterated he had red-flagged the issue.
In an exclusive interview to HT, justice Lahoti had refuted allegations of giving in to political pressure from the DMK-supported UPA-I government to allow the “tainted” judge to continue in office.
“I am contradicting him (Justice Lahoti). I did send him a letter that this judge (justice Ashok Kumar) is indulging in corruption so please get a secret Intelligence Bureau inquiry done,” justice Katju told HT on Saturday.
“The fact that I wrote a letter to justice Lahoti is proved by a lot of material. Seven other judges, six of them junior to justice Kumar, were made permanent and he alone was singled out... not confirmed as a permanent judge on expiry of his term as additional judge. It was done on the basis of an IB report,” justice Katju insisted.
“The statement of justice Ruma Pal confirms what I said. It is strange that when the three-judge Collegium of the Supreme Court consisting of (then) CJI Lahoti, justice YK Sabharwal and justice Ruma Pal had recommended to the government to discontinue the judge after his two-year term expired, justice Lahoti alone wrote a letter to the government to give him a further one year term as additional judge,” he said.
Justice Katju said the then prime minister Manmohan Singh’s letter corroborated his stand.
Justice Lahoti too had written that the government’s sensitivities had to be taken into account, he added.
Justice Lahoti has already denied having received any such letter from justice Pal.
When contacted, justice Lahoti said, “I have nothing to add to what I have already said.”
“This is the first and the last time I’m speaking to the media. My name has been unnecessarily dragged into this controversy. I just want to put the record straight,” the former CJI had told HT on Friday.
Regarding justice Lahoti’s statement as to why he did not withdraw the recommendation to make justice Kumar a permanent judge, justice Katju said, “The judge was appointed an additional judge of Madras high court in April 2003, whereas I took over as chief justice of the high court in November 2004.
“I never recommended that he be made a permanent judge of the high court. So there was no question of withdrawing any recommendation. It was my predecessor who recommended his elevation as an additional judge.”