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Threatened with transfer, alleges Karnataka HC judge

I am going to protect the independence of the judiciary at the cost of my judgeship: Justice HP Sandesh

K.M. Rakesh Bangalore Published 06.07.22, 02:55 AM
Justice H.P. Sandesh

Justice H.P. Sandesh Image courtesy:

A Karnataka High Court judge has said in open court that he was indirectly threatened with transfer through a colleague for pulling up the state police’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) over an investigation involving a bureaucrat.

Justice H.P. Sandesh said while making oral observations during the hearing of a bribery case on Monday: “Your (bureau’s) ADGP (Seemanth Kumar Singh) seems to be so powerful…. Some person has spoken to one of our high court judges. (The) judge came and sat with me and he says, giving an example of transferring one of the judges to some other district…. I will not hesitate to mention the name of the judge also. I am going to protect the independence of the judiciary at the cost of my judgeship. This should not happen. I will record the same in the order itself.”


The ACB functions under the home department in the state where the BJP is in power now. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi tweeted on Tuesday afternoon: “Institution after institution is being bulldozed by the BJP. Each of us must stand with those fearlessly doing their duty.”

Justice Sandesh was hearing the bail plea of deputy tahsildar P.S. Mahesh, who was arrested on the charge of receiving Rs 5 lakh as bribe to secure a favourable order from the office of then Bangalore urban deputy commissioner J. Manjunath in a land dispute case.

Although Mahesh had in his statement claimed that he took the bribe on the instructions of Manjunath, the FIR did not name the senior officer.

Following the allegations, Manjunath was on Saturday transferred as the director of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme. On Monday evening, after Justice Sandesh’s observations and question why Manjunath had not been arrested and the case records placed before him, the bureaucrat was picked up on the charge of demanding a bribe from the landowner to settle the dispute.

The high court had on June 29 directed the special counsel for the ACB, Manmohan P.N., to place before it the records on the investigations carried out in the case. However, the ACB did not do so when the case came up for hearing again on Monday.

Justice Sandesh questioned the ACB’s actions and asked the agency why Manjunath had not been arrested.

“Why have you not arrested him (the deputy commissioner)? That question I am asking you (ACB). You people are protecting such people and not placing material before the court. I am concerned with public interest.… You are here to protect the culprits or for the general public? You being an advocate of the ACB, which is constituted to prevent corruption, you are here to protect the people who are tainted and at the helm of affairs or you are appointed as special counsel to prevent corruption or not?”

Justice Sandesh noted that corruption was a “cancer” and he would “bell the cat”.

“I have no personal interest. I am not scared. I haven’t made an inch of land after becoming a judge,” he said.

“This (corruption) is a disease. It’s cancer. It should be stopped before it reaches the fourth stage. It cannot be stopped once it reaches the fourth stage. I will bell the cat, even at the cost of my judgeship,” Justice Sandesh said.

Advocate-general Prabhuling K. Navadgi appeared before the court in the post-lunch session and said the service records of the ADGP and the ACB superintendent would be placed before the court. The court granted three days to produce the records and adjourned the matter to July 7.

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