New Delhi : Press Council of India chairman and retired Justice Markandey Katju on Monday expressed surprise at former Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia being unable to recollect the phone tapping of three alleged agents of a senior judge of “questionable integrity”.
“It is strange that he (Kapadia) has no recollection of this. But records would be existing with the intelligence agency concerned, and perhaps also in the official files of the chief justice,” Katju on Monday wrote in a blog after Kapadia said he was unable to recollect the incident cited by the PCI chief.
Contesting Kapadia’s assertion that he did not bring any judge to the Supreme Court who was unfit, Katju said the collegium headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan of which Kapadia was also a member had nearly succeeded in bringing a “totally unfit” judge of the Madras High Court to the apex court.
Katju was apparently referring to a controversy over the move to elevate then Karnataka High Court Chief Justice P.D. Dinakaran to the apex court. Subsequently, Dinakaran was transferred to the Sikkim High Court and he resigned follow-
ing the initiation of impeachment proceedings against him.
“I may remind him that the Supreme Court Collegium, headed by CJI K.G. Balakrishnan, and of which Justice Kapadia was a member, almost succeeded in bringing a totally unfit person into the Supreme Court,” Katju said.
“That judge was a judge of the Madras High Court, when I was chief justice there, so I knew all about his bad reputation. Later, he was made chief justice of another high court, and was being considered for elevation to the Supreme Court,” he said.
Recalling having apprised Kapadia about the antecedents of the said judge, Katju said: “One day during lunch interval, I went to Justice Kapadia’s chamber and told him about the bad reputation of that judge, giving details. “I told him that I was not in the Supreme Court Collegium, but he was, and now it was for him to do whatever he thinks proper, and I have done my duty.” “There was no use informing Justice Balakrishnan since it was he who was pushing for the judge’s elevation to the Supreme Court,” Katju wrote in his blog.
“After listening to me, Justice Kapadia thanked me, and said that in future also if I have such information, I should pass it on to him,” Katju said.
He said that in accordance with the 1993 judgment that gave rise to the collegium system, Chief Justice Balakrishnan or the collegium should have consulted him as he was the then chief justice of the Madras High Court when the said judge was also on the bench there. Instead, he said Justice R.V. Ravindran, who had never been in the same court where the said judge was present, was asked to give a report.
“This was obviously done by Justice Balakrishnan, knowing that if consulted, I would give an adverse report,” Katju wrote, and asked: “But why did Justice Kapadia not tell Justice Balakrishnan to consult me?” “Despite this, the collegium, of which Justice Kapadia was a member, recommended the name of that judge having questionable integrity, and he would have definitely been elevated to the Supreme Court but for the Tamil Nadu lawyers who produced voluminous documentary evidence of his corruption,” he said.
“As a result, he was transferred to a small high court, and later impeachment proceedings were brought against him in Parliament, which lapsed when he resigned,” the blog read.
“So Justice Kapadia’s claim that he did not bring any corrupt judge to the Supreme Court, has to be qualified by at least one instance where he (or rather the collegium of which he was a member) almost succeeded,” Katju said.
The PCI chief said the apex court could have been saved of much embarrassment if his advice was heeded to. However, much later Kapadia told him (Katju) that Balakrishnan was adamant on elevating that judge, and so the recommendation was made.