Much Like An Earlier RTI Response, Govt Dodges Question On Justice Narayan Shukla’s Removal In Lok Sabha

Much Like An Earlier RTI Response, Govt Dodges Question On Justice Narayan Shukla’s Removal In Lok Sabha

The Government on Wednesday dodged another question in the Lok Sabha regarding action taken by it to facilitate the removal of Justice Narayan Shukla of Allahabad High Court, as recommended by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Justice Shukla was investigated against for granting permission to a private medical college to admit students despite a ban by the Medical Council of India as well as Supreme Court orders against such permission.

The question posed before the Government, as asked by Member of Parliament (MP) from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor was:

“(a) whether the Government has received a letter from the Chief Justice of India, on the need to remove Justice Narayan Shukla of Allahabad High Court, based on the findings of the in-house committee which indicted him of gross misconduct and if so, the details thereof; 

(b) whether the Government has taken any steps to facilitate the removal of the said judge; and

(c) if so, the details thereof and if not, the reasons thereof?”

In response, PP Chaudhary, Minister of State for Law and Justice & Corporate Affairs, said that “a communication” was in fact received from the CJI, as well as from Justice S.N. Shukla of Allahabad High Court. The Minister, however, did not provide any specific answer to the second and third questions regarding the initiation of steps to facilitate his removal.

Earlier in March, the President’s Secretariat had also skirted a similar question asked through an RTI application filed by Mr. Paras Nath Singh, who had sought:

  • Date on which the President’s Secretariat received a letter or a recommendation from the Chief Justice of India with regard to initiation of impeachment proceedings against Justice Narayan Shukla of the Allahabad High Court;

  • Certified copy of the letter or a recommendation along with annexure thereto received from the Chief Justice of India;

  • Procedure adopted by the Secretariat in this matter;

  • Certified copy of note made or order passed by the President of India on the said letter or recommendation;

  • Certified copy of the President Secretariat ID note whereby the said letter or recommendation was forwarded or sent to the Union Ministry of Law and Justice and to the Prime Minister’s Office;

  • Complete details of action taken on the said letter or recommendation from the CJI so far.

In response, the President’s Secretariat had confirmed that it had received a letter dated February 2, 2018 from the CJI’s office, seeking initiation of removal proceedings against Justice Shukla, on the ground of his indictment by the committee. The letter, it said, was “under consideration”. This response was also, however, silent on other questions that had been asked in the application.

In-house committee report

A probe against Justice Shukla was initiated by the CJI in November last year, and a three-member committee, comprising Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, Sikkim High Court Chief Justice S.K. Agnihotri, and Madhya Pradesh High Court’s Justice PK Jaiswal was set up.

In its report, the committee had reportedly made certain adverse remarks against him, finding that he had “disgraced the values of judicial life, acted in a manner unbecoming of a judge, lowered the majesty, dignity and credibility of his office”. The CJI had then directed that all judicial work to be taken away from him.

Armed with this report, the CJI had then, on 2 February written to the President’s Secretariat, requesting them to initiate removal proceedings against the Judge.