New Delhi, Feb. 21: The Supreme Court today declined to hear a PIL against alleged illegal allocation of government land to sitting judges of the Odisha and Gujarat high courts, saying the matter should be dealt with by the courts concerned.
The apex court said that merely because judges of the high court have availed themselves of the allotment, it does not mean that the petitioner cannot approach the high courts with the complaint.
“We are not inclined to entertain the petition. The petitioner is, however, at liberty to approach the respective high courts with the grievance,” a bench of Justices H.L. Dattu and S.A. Bobde told the Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), the NGO that filed the plea.
CPIL counsel Prashant Bhushan said 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 judges had written personal letters on their own letterheads seeking allotment, after which the state had accepted the request.
Bhushan argued that other judges in the court would not be inclined to hear the matter as it involved their colleagues, and therefore the Supreme Court should take up the PIL.
However, the bench was not convinced with the argument.
It cited an instance of Calcutta High Court when a judge had heard an alleged misappropriation case against another sitting judge, Justice Soumitra Sen, whose impeachment proceedings were initiated in Parliament. Justice Sen later resigned.
Bhushan also cited the case of Gujarat where he said several high court judges had been illegally allotted land.
He said a PIL was filed in the high court but the matter was getting adjourned for the past six years as several judges had recused themselves.
“Refusal to hear the matter would send a wrong message and only this court (the Supreme Court) or the judges who do not know those judges should hear it,” Bhushan said.
He added that such matters had never been decisively heard by any high court.
But the arguments failed to convince the apex court. The bench insisted that the CPIL must first approach the high courts concerned.