Justice HP Sandesh of the Karnataka High Court asserted on Monday that he had been subtly threatened with the transfer if he continued to follow the development of an investigation being conducted by the state Anti-Corruption Bureau, reported Live Law.
Justice Sandesh claimed that a High Court judge who is now sitting told him about another judge who was transferred and implied that he would experience the same fate.
The judge made the comment orally during the hearing of a bail request submitted by PS Mahesh, an accused deputy tahsildar who was arrested for allegedly collecting an Rs. 5 lakh bribe in exchange for issuing a favorable ruling from the DC office over a land dispute matter.
The court had by its order dated June 29, directed the Special Counsel for ACB, Manmohan PN, to place the materials with regard to the investigation. However, the ACB counsel hesitated in turning over the documents.
The judge questioned why Manjunath had not been arrested and claimed that the anti-corruption organization was shielding him by withholding the documents.
Following this, the judge said, “Why you have not arrested him (Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru office), that question I am asking you (ACB). You people are protecting such people and not placing material before the court, I am concerned with public interest…You are here to protect the culprits or for the general public? You being an Advocate of ACB, which is constituted to prevent corruption, you are here to protect the people who are tainted and at the helm of affairs or you are appointed as special counsel to prevent.”
Mahesh claimed in a statement that Deputy Commissioner J Manjunath had authorized him to accept the bribe, however, the senior official was not mentioned in the FIR, reports The News Minute.
Then, the judge made the statement regarding the indirect threat given to him ” Your ADGP is so powerful… “Someone spoke to one of our High Court judges. The judge came over and sat down with me, and he said, giving an example of relocating one of the judges to another region. I won’t be hesitant to include the judge’s name as well.”
Justice Sandesh made it apparent that he was not averse to jeopardizing his position in the interest of the public good.
“I am not affiliated to any political party. I am not having an ideology of any political party. I am affiliated to the Constitution,” he said.
He further added: “I have no personal interest. Corruption is cancer, I will tell the cat, even at the cost of my judgeship. It is my duty to protect the independence of judiciary also.”
After this incident, the Bench scheduled a post-lunch session to pass the order.
When the case was brought up, Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi stood in front of the court and asked for time to record the documents that were being sought out for inspection. The case was therefore adjourned to July 7, 2022. Further, He guaranteed that anything the court requests be produced. “Nothing should be withheld from the court. We’ll assist your lordships.”
The judge also underlined that he knew that an investigation is a responsibility of investigating officers and that some problems, albeit not all of them, require court supervision. In the public interest, Justice Sandesh claimed, he was required to keep an eye on this matter.