He was the second HC judge in the country to make public his assets
D.V. Shylendra Kumar, known among the legal fraternity as a “rebellious and bold” judge of the Karnataka High Court, retired on Wednesday and was given a warm farewell by the Chief Justice and his companion judges, the Karnataka State Bar Council, and the Bangalore Advocates’ Association here.
Mr. Kumar’s open revolt in 2009–10 against certain controversial actions of the then Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran, who landed in a controversy following allegations of land grab and corruption against him, steered even the legal fraternity to raise voice against the latter. Mr. Dinakaran was subsequently transferred to the Sikkim High Court.
Mr. Kumar was the first judge of the High Court to open a blog and publish articles on the requirement of transparency in judiciary besides criticising the Supreme Court’s collegium, the highest administrative decision-making body of the Indian judiciary. Mr. Kumar had written an article criticising the then Chief Justice India K.G. Balakrishnan for opposing declaration of assets by High Court and Supreme Court judges.
Mr. Kumar made details of his assets public at http://sites.google.com/site/justdvskumar/ in August 2009 after the then Chief Justice of the High Court (Mr. Dinakaran) refused to put the details on the High Court’s official website. Mr. Kumar, who was elevated to the High Court in December 2000, was the second High Court judge in the country to publicly declare assets.
In another unique action, Mr. Kumar, in August 2007, personally visited the Kumaraswamy range of forests at Sandur in Bellary district as part of hearing on a petition related to a controversy over the grant of mining lease in favour of Jindal Steel. In his judgment on the controversy delivered in August 2008, he set guidelines for protection of environment and ecology in mining areas besides quashing government notification allowing mining in forest areas. However, a Division Bench headed by Mr. Dinakaran set aside this judgment favouring Jindal Steel, but subsequently, the apex court upheld Mr. Kumar’s verdict.
At the farewell function, Mr. Kumar said: “…I am quite aware of my limitation and I am also aware of the fact that on a day like this when a sitting judge is retiring, it is customary to speak highlighting only the good qualities of the judge, even if the judge does not have them, and ignoring the defects and shortcomings of the judge.”
He called upon the Bar to be watchdog of the judiciary and the courts to ensure that judges do not go astray in discharging their duties.