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Karnataka HC Judge Says He Was Threatened With Transfer For Slamming ACB Investigation

Mustafa Plumber
4 July 2022 2:29 PM GMT
Karnataka HC Judge Says He Was Threatened With Transfer For Slamming ACB Investigation
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"I am going to protect the independence of the judiciary at the cost of my judgeship", the judge said.

Justice HP Sandesh of the Karnataka High Court on Monday made a sensational revelation that he was given an indirect threat of transfer if he continued to monitor the progress of investigations carried out by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in a case allegedly involving Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru (Urban).

Justice Sandesh made the oral observation while hearing a bail application filed by one accused PS Mahesh, a deputy Tashildar arrested for allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs. 5 lakh in connection with giving a favourable order from the DC office on a land dispute case.

The court had by its order dated June 29, directed the Special Counsel for ACB, Manmohan PN, to place the materials with regard to the investigation done in the matter. Further, the ACB was directed to produce records of the filing of 'B report' and obtaining of search warrants and not conducting search based on the warrants. It was also directed to submit a report regarding the closure reports filed by ACB since its constitution.

However, the counsel for ACB hesitated to produce the documents. Following which the judge said, "Why you have not arrested him (Deputy Commissioner, Bengaluru office), 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 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."

The judge added, "This is not the way, you are paid with public money. Special enactment is brought into force with an intention to prevent corruption. It is spreading in the whole society like cancer, instead of preventing it from reaching the fourth stage which is not curable, at the first stage or second stage it should be cured."

Then, the judge made the statement regarding the indirect threat given to him.

"Your ADGP is so powerful… Some person spoken to one of our High Court judge, judge came and sat with me and he says, giving an example of transferring of one of the judge to some other district…I will not hesitate to mention the name of the judge also", he said.

"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. You people are encouraging such people. You are here to protect the institution, not to do all these things…"

He added "I have no personal interest. Corruption is cancer, I will bell the cat, even at the cost of my judgeship. It is my duty to protect the independence of judiciary also. I am not affiliated to any political party and also belong to the ideology of any political party. I am affiliated to the Constitution only…"

Following this episode, the Bench posted the matter for post-lunch session for passing order.

In the post-lunch session, Advocate General Prabhuling K Navadgi appeared before the court and made a statement that service records of the ADGP and the Superintendent of Police (ACB) will be placed before the court. He assured that whatever is summoned by the Court will be produced. "We should not hold back anything from the court. We will assist your lordships."

Accordingly, the Court granted three days' time for production of record and fixed the case for hearing on July 7.

In its order the court also said that it is conscious that investigation is the domain of the Investigation officer and though certain matters may require monitoring by court, it does not mean supervision by court. However, in the instant case, the bench said, it was compelled to monitor the investigation in view of "public interest".

After the hearing, the Deputy Commission J Manjunath was arrested by the ACB today evening.

Case Title: MAHESH P S And STATE OF KARNATAKA

Case No: CRL.P 4909/2022

Watch from 1:57:15 -hearing in first sessions; comments about indirect threat from 2.06.41 to 2.07.40

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