The Karnataka High Court has turned down a request by Congress MLA D.K. Shivakumar to “avoid” a particular judge from hearing his petitions related to non-payment of value added tax (VAT) for carrying out granite extraction and transport businesses, while telling him that “courts of law are not shopping centres”.
Mr. Shivakumar filed the petitions challenging the demand by the investigation wing of the Commercial Tax Department to pay around Rs. 13 lakh as VAT along with penal interest.
The department alleged that Mr. Shivakumar extracted rough granite from Kanakapura and transported it using two quarrying licences issued to him in 2004, but did not pay VAT.
‘Oral agreement only’
However, the Congress leader contended that he did not extract or transport granite and these activities were carried out by two firms, with which he had “oral agreements” and they had paid the VAT.
When the petitions came up before Justice Ram Mohan Reddy, counsel for Mr. Shivakumar submitted that he was “instructed to make submissions that this petition should not be heard by this court [Justice Reddy] as the plea was filed before the Chief Justice to transfer the petitions to some other judge.”
However, Mr. Justice Reddy said: “Judges have the highest duty to the people of administering justice based on fearless truth, moral rectitude and negation of addition for power and lucre…legal profession is a service profession and not trade or business, and the courts of law are not shopping centres.”
“It must be remembered that judges do not yield to frivolous or trivial grounds or suggestions of apparent bias else it would encourage parties to have their cases transferred from a judge whom they wish to avoid,” Mr. Justice Reddy said.
As Mr. Shivakumar’s counsel refused to argue the case, Mr. Justice Reddy read the petition and other documents.
As counsel for the department submitted that there was sufficient material to establish that Mr. Shivakumar himself had carried out the businesses, the court disposed of the petitions. It asked the department to treat as show cause notice the communication issued to Mr. Shivakumar demanding payment of VAT and penalties.