Collegium Reiterates Elevation Of P. Krishna Bhat As A Judge Of The Karnataka HC
In its meeting held on October 15, the Supreme Court Collegium recommended elevation of P. Krishna Bhat, Judicial Officer, as a Judge of the Karnataka High Court.
The Collegium had first recommended his elevation as a judge of the high court in August, 2016. However, the recommendation was stalled in view certain complaints against him by a female judicial officer who had accused him of "atrocities and abuse of power".
In view of this, the then Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur had directed then Chief Justice of high court, Justice S. K. Mukherjee, to hold an inquiry. Justice Mukherjee had then absolved Judge Bhat of the allegations, asserting that the woman's complaints were aimed at maligning him and stalling his appointment as a High Court Judge.
Nevertheless, the centre stalled his elevation, and communicated the need for an inquiry to the Chief Justice of the High Court instead. Subsequently, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, successor of Justice Mukherjee, relaunched an inquiry against Bhat, allegedly at the govt.'s behest.
In this regard, Justice Chelameswar had written a letter to then CJI Deepak Misra, calling for a full court on the judicial side to discuss the matter of government interference in appointment of Judges to High Courts.
He questioned the impact of Justice Maheshwari's actions on the independence of the judiciary, saying,
"We, the judges of the Supreme Court of India, are being accused of ceding our independence and our institutional integrity to the Executive's incremental encroachment. The Executive is always impatient, and brooks no disobedience even of the judiciary if it can. Attempts were always made to treat the Chief Justices as the Departmental Heads in the Secretariat. So much for our "independence and preeminence" as a distinct State organ.
Someone from Bangalore has already beaten us in the race to the bottom. The Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court has been more than willing to do the Executive bidding, behind our back."
After passage of almost two years since the incident, the Collegium has again recommended Bhat's elevation as a judge of the high court. The Collegium's resolution states,
"On reconsideration of the above proposal, referred back by the Department of Justice, Government of India to the Chief Justice of India, the Supreme Court Collegium in its meeting held on 15th October, 2019, has resolved to recommend that its recommendation made on 23rd August, 2016 and reiterated on 6th April, 2017 be processed most expeditiously."