Patna HC stays order on Corruption in Judicial System

A 11-Judge Bench of the Patna HC has stayed the order passed by Justice Rakesh Kumar on the state of corruption in the judicial system.

The 11-Judge Bench was constituted by Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi after all judicial work was withdrawn from Justice Rakesh Kumar with immediate effect.

In his 20-page order dated August 28, Justice Rakesh Kumar had remarked that “in Patna Judgeship, things are not going in its right perspective.”

While directing that a copy of the order be sent to the Chief Justice of India, the Collegium Judges, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Law Ministry, Justice Rakesh Kumar recorded that corruption in the High Court was an “open secret”.

Justice Rakesh Kumar even passed a direction to the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct an inquiry into an episode relating to corruption in the premises of the Patna Civil Court.

Earlier, the Patna HC Chief Justice on Thursday issued a notice to withdraw all cases from a senior judge after he alleged corruption in judiciary while hearing a case against a former IAS officer.

According to a notice issued by the order of the Patna High Court Chief Justice, “all matters pending before Justice Rakesh Kumar, sitting singly including tired up/part heard or otherwise stand withdrawn with immediate effect”.

“Justice Rakesh Kumar will await in chambers for work assignments until ordered otherwise” notice issued by the order of Chief Justice of Patna High Court said.

Justice Rakesh Kumar, who is the senior most judge, said in his order on Wednesday, that corruption in High Court is (an) open secret. He also made scathing remarks on the prevailing situation in state judiciary and publicly pointed out corruption in lower courts.

Justice Rakesh Kumar, while hearing the bail application of former IAS officer K. P. Ramiah, had questioned how he was granted bail by a lower court when the High Court as well as the Supreme Court had rejected his request for protection from arrest because of the gravity of the allegations.

Justice Kumar said a “corrupt officer” like Ramaiah secured bail as a vacation judge heard his case in place of the regular judge of the Vigilance Court, who was away for a day.

The judge also alleged that the full bench of the Patna HC had taken a lenient view every time the case of any judge from the lower judiciary came up. “Despite my opposition, a judge facing serious charges was let off with minor punishment instead of an exemplary one,” Justice Kumar had said in his order.

Justice Kumar also hit out at High Court judges for wasting public money by choosing to stay in guest houses for months on the pretext of renovating the government bungalows allotted to them.

The judge referred to a sting operation conducted in 2017 on ‘Cash for Justice’ in the Patna District Court by a TV channel. While the High Court should have lodged an FIR and ordered an inquiry, he lamented, nothing was done.

The judge also recorded instances of corruption associated with appointment of judges and refurbishing judges’ bungalows at huge cost by the public exchequer.

These are some of the other observations recorded by Justice Rakesh Kumar:

  • I am of the opinion that only to save the respect of judiciary, we must not put curtain to those corruptions, otherwise faith of entire society will be finished in the judicial system.
  • I have gone through a number of records of Criminal Appeals (Division Bench), in which, judgements were reserved sometime in the year 2017 and in some cases, judgements were reserved in the year 2018 by a Division Bench of Patna HC presided by a senior Judge of the Patna High Court, who was subsequently transferred outside Patna High Court. Despite reserving the judgment, without delivering the judgment, he left Patna High Court.
  • It is also an open fact that wards of Judges are practising in Patna HC. Ward of one Judge, even during short period of his profession, has taken classes in Bihar Judicial Academy and got honorarium.
  • There are instances of protecting corrupt judicial officers. At least in one case, relating to one Additional Sessions Judge namely Sri K. P. Singh, who was posted at Patna, against whom, there were serious allegations and indictment against him in judicial side. In the same matter, he was proceeded departmentally. One of the High Court Judge was Inquiry Officer. During inquiry, out of two serious charges, one charge was proved and show cause notice was issued on the point of quantum of punishment. After filing reply of the second show cause, while matter was placed before the Standing Committee for taking decision on the point of punishment for serious charge, one of the senior Members of the Standing Committee stood as a “Rock” to protect him, however; the said Agenda was deferred and on the next meeting, due to some urgent work, I was out of station and in my absence, the Standing Committee took a decision to impose a minor punishment i.e. “stoppage of one increment with cumulative effect”.

Ramiah is accused of embezzling over Rs. 5 crore from the Bihar Mahadalit Vikas Mission, a state government scheme for deprived and marginalised Dalits.