Judge to official: Did you get job through quota?
A Patna High Court judge has been caught on camera asking a summoned official if he had got the job through reservation and that he had figured out the caste from the name, as the others present broke out into laughter.
After a video of the incident was widely shared on social media, the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe employees of the Bihar government accused Justice Sandeep Kumar of fanning casteism and wondered what justice could the official hope to get from someone with such a mindset. Justice Kumar has not commented on the video.
The video clip, apparently taken from the livestream of the proceedings of court no. 212, dates back to November 23.
Last week, Justice Kumar had lambasted the bulldozer-happy ways of law-enforcement agencies.
Although the comment was made with respect to Opposition-ruled Bihar, several BJP-ruled states have been accused of using bulldozers to target the properties of critics.
In the November 23 video available on Patna High Court’s YouTube channel, a man resembling Justice Kumar is seen hearing a case in which Arvind Kumar Bharti, a district land acquisition officer posted in Purnea, had been called to depose.
The court had asked Bharti to appear in person to explain why he had released compensation for a plot of land the government had taken over although it was mired in a legal dispute.
Bharti had allegedly relied on the order of the sarpanch and the panch of the village panchayat for compensation.
In the video, Bharti’s lawyer informs the court that the officer is currently under suspension in a bribery case and serving at the Purnea commissionerate headquarters.
After a few questions from the judge with regard to the case, the lawyer prays for time to file a counter-affidavit.
The judge grants time to file the affidavits and orders that a date be given in the second week of January.
Towards the end of the hearing, the judge asks: “Bhartiji, reservation par aaye the naukri mein kya (Mr Bharti, did you get the job through reservation?)”
Bharti replies in the affirmative, to which the judge says: “Jaaiye theek hai. Samajh gaye naam se (Let it be... I have realised from your name.”)
As the lawyers break into laughter, one of them suggests the judge would have understood the case by now (“huzoor, aap samajh gaye honge”) and that the officer had through bribes made money equivalent to two salaried jobs.
The judge replies: “Nahi, nahi, yeh sab... kuch nahi hota in logon ka. Ye bechara paisa jo kamaya hoga khatam kar diya hoga (No, no, nothing will happen to these people. The poor fellow must have spent whatever he might have earned.”)
As the video clip went viral on social media platforms, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Employees Association, Bihar, took umbrage and called it a travesty of justice.
“The words of the judge spoken in the courtroom are in bad taste. He is fanning casteism after 75 years of Independence. What justice can Bharti get if the judge has such an attitude and mentality? There are similar people in every caste,” the association’s general secretary, Devendra Rajak, told The Telegraph.
“I am going to write to the Chief Justice of India and the chief justice of Patna High Court on Thursday over the issue. Casteism is not a good thing,” Rajak added.
Last week, Justice Kumar had slammed the Bihar police for bulldozing a woman’s house illegally without moving court.
“Tamasha bana diya hai ki kisi ka bhi ghar bulldozer se tod denge (This has been turned into a farce, anybody’s house is now razed with a bulldozer),” Justice Kumar had said.