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Supreme court declines judges case

New Delhi, Feb. 21: The Supreme Court today declined to entertain a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the alleged illegal allocation of government plots to sitting judges of Orissa High Court and Gujarat High Court, saying the matter might be adjudicated before the respective high courts.

The apex court said that merely because judges of the high court have availed themselves of the alleged illegal allotment, it did not mean that the petitioner could not approach the high court concerned with the complaint.

“We are not inclined to entertain the petition. The petitioner is, however, at liberty to approach respective high courts with the grievance,” the bench of Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice S.A. Bobde told the petitioner Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL).

The apex court passed the order after counsel Prashant Bhushan appearing for the CPIL had complained that as many as 10 sitting judges of Orissa High Court had been illegally allotted land by the state government since 2007.

He alleged that the sitting judges, setting aside all protocols and rules, had written personal letters on their official letter heads to the chief minister seeking allotment of land, which was complied with by the state government.

Bhushan argued that since 10 sitting judges of Orissa High Court were the beneficiaries, other judges in the court would not be inclined to hear the matter, hence the Supreme Court should take up the PIL.

However, the bench was not convinced with the argument and cited the instance of Calcutta High Court when Justice Sengupta heard the alleged misappropriation case against another sitting judge of the same court, whose impeachment proceedings were initiated in Parliament, though the judge in question had resigned.

The counsel persisted with the argument and cited the case of Gujarat wherein, he said during the past few years several judges in Gujarat High Court had also been illegally allotted land.

He said that though a PIL was pending in Gujarat High Court on the issue the matter had been getting adjourned for the past six years as various judges chose to recuse from the matter.

However, the arguments failed to convince the Supreme Court, which insisted that the CPIL must first approach the high courts and only after the matter was decided by it, the petitioner can approach the apex court for remedy.


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