Justice Katju triggers fresh controversy, targets ex-CJI K G Balakrishnan

New Delhi, August 11: Stoking a fresh controversy, Press Council of India (PCI) chairperson Justice Markandey Katju today alleged that the then Chief Justice of India (CJI) K G Balakrishnan had pushed for the elevation of a Madras High Court judge with “bad reputation” to the Supreme Court. He said that the collegium headed by Justice Balakrishnan and also having Justice S H Kapadia “almost suceeded” in bringing the judge to the apex court but lawyers in Tamil Nadu thwarted it by producing “voluminous documentary evidence of his corruption.”

Justice K G Balakrishnan, chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), was not immediately available for comments with his office stating that he is on an official tour to Malaysia and will be back this weekend. Katju had earlier accused Justice Balakrishnan and two other former CJIs of “improper compromises” in retaining a Tamil Nadu judge under corruption cloud during UPA rule. Justice Balakrishnan had dubbed the allegations as baseless.

A former judge of the Supreme Court, Katju made the fresh claims on his blog while also reacting to remarks made by Justice Kapadia, in response to his yesterday’s post. Justice Kapadia had said that he had not brought to Supreme Court any unfit judge. ”I may remind him (Kapadia) that the Supreme Court collegium, headed by (then) 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 further said. Katju said that one day during lunch interval, he 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,” he wrote. Katju further said that after listening to him, Justice Kapadia thanked him and said that in future also if he has such information it should be passed on to him.

“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,” Katju wrote.