Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Markandey Katju`s charges that three ex-Chief Justices of India had compromised in giving extension and elevation to an additional judge of Madras High Court at UPA government`s instance received mixed reactions from political parties with some including AIADMK demanding a probe while others questioned the timing of his disclosure.
AIADMK members in Lok Sabha sought an enquiry into the allegations by former Supreme Court judge Katju, who is now Press Council of India chairperson, charging DMK and the erstwhile UPA government with "interfering" in the appointment of judge.
"It is a serious matter ... The previous government and the DMK interfered in the appointment of a corrupt judge," AIADMK leader M Thambidurai said during Zero Hour today, demanding a probe by the government into the allegations.
BSP chief Mayawati termed the charges as serious and demanded a probe into them.
"The allegations levelled by Katju are serious and I think they should be investigated. If there is any element of truth in them, there should be action. There should not be any political interference in the appointment of judges," she told reporters.
Congress leaders trashed the allegations, saying they had no relevance and it was just an attempt by Katju to remain in news and "come close to the present government".
"After more than a decade, you are raising this issue....It has no relevance. I take it as an attempt to defame judiciary," party leader Rajiv Shukla said.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut and D Raja of CPI questioned the timing of allegations and wondered what Katju did when the alleged corrupt judge was elevated.
"Everybody knows about corruption in judiciary. If Katju had exposed it then, the point he is making now would have been more forceful. Now after so many years, after you have retired, after the government has changed, there is no significance in what he has said. He should have spoken then," Raut said.
Raja said the point was why Katju had raised the issue
now and what was he doing then?
He said "problems about the appointment and transfer of judges existed and that was why we had been demanding National Judicial Commission.
"Parliament has been discussing judicial accountability bill. It has been debating how to make judiciary more accountable... To make it independent and corruption free."
Former law minister M Veerappa Moily said, "I have no comments...These are all matters to be dealt by the collegium..... Today after 10 years raking up the same issue, I don`t know what is the logic and reason behind this," he said.
JD(U) leader Shard Yadav said what Katju had claimed was true to a large extent and it was a matter related to judiciary. "Sooner or later, the truth has to come out," he said.
Katju, who became the Chief Justice of Madras High Court in November 2004, told a news channel, "These three former CJIs made improper compromises. Justice Lahoti who started it, then Justice Sabharwal and then Justice Balakrishnan. These are CJIs who can surrender. Is a CJI going to surrender to political pressure or not going to surrender to political pressure?"
Former Law Minister and eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani also questioned why Katju had not spoken out earlier.
"While I believe every word he has written, I have no doubt about it.... I have grievance against him that why did he not speak on this issue before."
"If he had had the moral courage to speak the truth at that time, he might have suffered a little himself, but he could have prevented a lot of damage that has been done since then," he said.
Rejecting Katju`s charges, Congress leader Oscar Fernandes said his party does not indulge in such things.
"It is not like that. It was also raised in Parliament. Congress party does not do this kind of things because there is no need for it," Fernandes said outside Parliament.
When it was pointed to Fernandes that according to a report, the UPA government succumbed to pressure because there was threat to its survival, he said, "The appointments of judges of Supreme Court and High Court are not the matter of discussion in public. Let the concerned people respond."
With PTI Inputs