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Manmohan must make a statement on corrupt judge issue, says govt

New Delhi, Jul 23 (PTI): The government on Wednesday demanded that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh make a categorical statement on whether the Prime Minister’s office under him had pushed for extension to a judge facing corruption charges.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the whole account of the affair, first brought out by former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju, showed how the government was functioning during the United Progressive Alliance regime. It was trying to compromise on each and every issue, he alleged.

Questioning the silence of Singh, he told reporters here, ”His silence is an indication that there is something to hide. So in the interest of justice, the former Prime Minister should come out and make a categorical statement about what exactly has happened. Was he really under pressure?

”All these things people of India have got a right to know. That will help enhance the image of the judiciary and also remove the misgivings if any by such a statement from the former PM,” Naidu said.

Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had informed Parliament on Tuesday that the PMO under Singh had written a note asking why the Supreme Court collegium had not recommended extension for a Madras High Court judge who was facing corruption charges after the collegium expressed its hesitation.

Giving details of the controversial case that has thrown Parliament into turmoil, he had said the Supreme Court collegium in 2003 had “certain reservations” and had made some inquiries and decided that the case of this judge should not be taken up.

But later during the UPA rule, a clarification was sought by the PMO as to why he should not be recommended, Prasad had said in Lok Sabha.

His response had come after an uproar over the issue forced two adjournments of the Lok Sabha as agitated AIADMK members stormed the Well demanding that the name of the then Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam minister who “pressurised” the UPA government to confirm the appointment of controversial judge be made public.

Katju has alleged that three Chief Justices of India-- Justice R.C. Lahoti and his successors Justices Y.K. Sabharwal and K.G. Balakrishnan--made “improper compromises” and ”succumbed” to political pressure in the extension of additional judge at the instance of UPA-I government owing to pressure from an ally, a “Tamil Nadu party”, and his confirmation as permanent judge.