Faced threat after I questioned functioning of ACB: HC judge

High Court of Karnataka

High Court of Karnataka | Photo Credit: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Justice H.P. Sandesh, judge of the High Court of Karnataka, on Monday orally disclosed in the court hall that there was a “threat” to him after he raised questions about the functioning of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB).

The judge revealed this during the hearing of a petition filed by Mahesh P.S, deputy tahsildar, who is an accused in the ₹5 lakh bribery case involving J. Manjunath, an IAS officer and the then Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru Urban district.

Justice Sandesh, during earlier hearings of the petition last week, had questioned why ACB had not acted against Mr. Manjunath.

So powerful?

Though the judge neither disclosed the source from whom he received the threat nor the nature of threat, he asked ACB’s counsel whether ACB’s Additional Director-General of Police [Seemant Kumar Singh] was so powerful.

However, Justice Sandesh revealed that another judge of the High Court came to him and told him that there was a threat from some person, who is said to have referred to an earlier incident of “transfer of a judge to another district”

Stating that he would not hesitate to disclose the name of the another judge, who had informed him about the threat in the written order, Justice Sandesh said that he had “no fear of transfer and he is committed to protecting the independence of the judiciary even at the cost of his judgeship”.

‘Vitamin M’

“I am hear to protect the independence of the judiciary. I am not affiliated to any political party and also to any ideology of any political party. I am only affiliated to the Constitution of India...,” he said while pointing out that the “State government and the ADGP are protecting corrupt public servants, all for ‘vitamin M’...”

“First stop posting of officers by taking money, then everything will be fine,” observed Justice Sandesh.

Describing the threat to him as nothing but “an attack on the institution of judiciary”, Justice Sandesh said that he was not sitting as a judge to please anybody. He made it clear that “he will not go anywhere if he is transferred as he has land of his father to plough and earn his livelihood.”

“I have not purchased any land after I became a judge... In fact, I have sold four acres of the land, which my father had, after I became a judge,” he said while recalling how he had handled the corruption cases when he was serving as a district judge before his elevation to the High Court.

Justice Sandesh made these remarks after the ACB failed to submit the details like number of closure reports, number of search warrants taken from the trial courts and number of searches conducted, and acceptance of closure reports by the trial courts. “Search warrants are not executed, but used for vasooli (extortion),” he said.

ADGP’s service record

Also, Justice Sandesh summoned the service record of Mr. Singh to verify his antecedents while orally asking whether Mr. Singh had not faced investigation by anti-corruption agencies of the Centre earlier. It is the duty of the authorities not to post tainted officers to agencies like the ACB, Justice Sandesh said.

Was he [Mr. Singh] not raised by the Central Bureau of Investigation, Justice Sandesh asked when his service record was brought to the court. As the government counsel could not immediately find out such details from the record, the court asked the counsel to verify it and inform the court about it on July 7, the next date of hearing.

Justice Sandesh also pointed out that ACB had acted against Mr. Manjunath only after the court questioned about this aspect after going through the statements of other accused persons.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2022 5:58:17 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/faced-threat-after-he-questioned-functioning-of-acb-hc-judge/article65600315.ece