The Supreme Court today upheld its controversial remarks that something was “rotten” in the Allahabad High Court where the “uncle judges syndrome” was rampant and needed cleansing.
A bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra, while dismissing the Allahabad High Court’s application for expunging of the remarks, however, clarified that there were “excellent and good judges too” in the court.
Rejecting the arguments of senior counsel P. P. Rao that even a clarification that some are excellent and good judges would still cause suspicion on the integrity of the judges, the bench remarked, “It is not just time to react but also to introspect”.
Reacting to the persistent plea of Mr. Rao that the clarification would not be sufficient, Justice Katju angrily retorted, “Do not tell all this. My family and I have more than 100 years of association with the Allahabad High Court. People know who is corrupt and who is honest.”
Justice Katju further observed, “Tomorrow, if Markandey Katju starts taking bribe, then the entire country will know about it. So do not tell me as to who is honest and who is corrupt.”
Mr. Rao submitted that the earlier observations had tarnished the image of the entire High Court judiciary and the rustic would not be able to distinguish between an honest and a corrupt judge.
“Do not tell me all those things about the rustic. They are much more enlightened. Do not think people of India are fools,” the bench observed while dismissing the application.
The Allahabad High Court had taken strong exception to the apex court’s remarks that “something was rotten” and there was “rampant uncle judge syndrome” in the higher court.
In an application moved through its registry, the High Court had sought expunction of the remarks on the ground that they “have made difficult” for the judges to function and tarnished the reputation of the entire judiciary in Uttar Pradesh.
“The remarks are unfortunate and uncalled for and has brought down the image of the Allahabad High Court judges in the eyes of the general public. The observations have made it difficult for the judges to function,” the application had stated.
It had submitted that judges of the High Court are appointed only after clearance from the Supreme Court collegium and as such, there was no scope to question their integrity.
On November 26, in a strong indictment of Allahabad High Court, the apex court had said, “There is something rotten” there and raised serious questions about integrity of several of its judges.
“Something is rotten in the State of Denmark, said Shakespeare in Hamlet, and it can similarly be said that something is rotten in the Allahabad High Court,” a bench of justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra had said, adding the high court “really needs some house cleaning“.
The apex court bench had also asked the chief justice of the high court to take some strong measures, including recommending “transfers of the incorrigibles“.
It had made the remarks in a 12-page order while making the insinuation that several judges of the high court suffer from ‘uncle judge’ syndrome, which refers to judges passing favourable orders for parties represented by lawyers known to them.
The bench’s remarks came while scrapping a single-judge bench order of the Allahabad High Court which had asked a Bahraich-based Waqf Board to temporarily allot a portion of its land in May-June this year to the proprietors of a circus for its show during an annual fair.
Referring to the rampant ‘uncle judge’ syndrome allegedly plaguing the high court, the apex court bench had said, “Some judges have their kith and kin practising in the same court.