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Chelameswar questions probe initiated by Karnataka HC chief justice against district judge

In a letter to Chief Justice Dipak Misra, justice Chelameswar said that the inquiry was contrary to the established conventions.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2018 10:31 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
J Chelameswar,Supreme Court,Dipak Misra
Justice J Chelameswar shot off a letter to Chief Justice Dipak Misra last week and marked it to all the judges of the top court.(PTI File Photo)

Supreme Court judge Justice J Chelameswar has objected to a probe initiated, on a law ministry complaint, by the Karnataka high court chief justice against a district judge who was recommended for elevation, people familiar with the matter said.

Justice Chelameswar wrote to Chief Justice Dipak Misra, bringing to his attention the “illegal manner” in which the probe was called for and questioned the propriety of the probe.

In a letter, sent to the CJI last week and marked to all the judges of the top court, Justice Chelameswar said that the inquiry was contrary to established conventions. At least two judges confirmed on condition of anonymity that they had received the letter, which HT has not seen.

Chelameshwar, the second senior-most judge in the Supreme Court, also wrote in the letter, one of the judges said, that it was improper for the law ministry to forward a letter directly to an HC chief justice. He contended in the letter that this was in violation of the 1998 MoP (memorandum of procedure) governing the procedure for appointment/elevation.

The letter also mentioned the delay on the Centre’s part to appoint judges to the HC as per the top court’s recommendation of April 2017, said the judge quoted above.

The chief justice of the Karnataka high court, Dinesh Maheswari, had initiated the inquiry against the senior district judge after the law ministry forwarded a complaint by a woman judicial officer of Karnataka, levelling charges of misconduct and misbehaviour against the judge. The letter was sent after the top court had cleared his name for the HC after rejecting the charges.

The top court had first approved his name in November 2016. But the law ministry had returned the file, asking the collegium to look into charges of alleged misbehaviour and misconduct.

The then CJI Justice TS Thakur had ordered the then Karnataka HC chief justice SK Mukherjee to hold an inquiry against the judge.

The probe had exonerated the district judge of all charges, saying the complaint was malafide and motivated to stall his elevation.

The SC collegium in April 2017 reiterated his recommendation. However, the woman judicial officer lodged a fresh complaint, this time directly with the law ministry.

The Centre, which did not move on the file of judge’s elevation for over six months, forwarded the complaint to the Karnataka HC chief justice.

First Published: Mar 28, 2018 23:25 IST