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Apex court trains graft glare on lower judges

New Delhi, Nov. 27: Chief Justice G.B. Pattanaik has set in motion the Supreme Court’s in-house inquiry into allegations of corruption against high court judges.

The first in the batch appear to be three judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who have been linked to the Punjab Public Service Commission scam.

Sources said the three might be asked to come to Delhi to face the inquiry committee, headed by the chief justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court, A.R. Lakshmanan.

The Lakshmanan committee had held a meeting in Delhi on Monday to decide the “modalities” of the inquiry. Another meeting is scheduled for Friday.

The apex court has devised an “in-house” procedure, according to which a committee appointed by the chief justice probes into allegations of corruption against judges.

Yesterday, on Law Day, Justice Pattanaik spoke about the in-house procedure and the need to strengthen it.

In the case of the three Punjab and Haryana court judges, Justice Pattanaik’s predecessor, Justice B.N. Kirpal, had ordered an inquiry. Justice Saharya was appointed head of the inquiry committee.

Justice Saharya had sent his report but since Justice Kirpal’s retirement, no follow-up action was taken. The Supreme Court’s committee on judicial accountability, which includes leading lawyers Ram Jethmalani and Shanti Bhushan, has demanded action on the report. Now Justice Pattanaik has appointed a new inquiry committee and follow-up action would depend on its report, the sources said.

The chief justice of Karnataka High Court, Justice N.K. Jain, is also understood to have written to Justice Pattanaik that after levelling allegations of corruption against judges, nobody came forward to corroborate them.

Sources pointed out that in cases where “witnesses” or “deponents” do not come forward to give statements, it would be difficult for any inquiry committee to pin point charges against the judges.

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