Patna: Justice Rakesh Kumar of Patna High Court, who raised the issue of corruption within judiciary, made it clear on Friday, August 30, that he has no regret for that. He said that if exposing corruption is a crime, he has done it.
Patna High Court had debarred Justice Kumar from hearing cases and withdrew all cases from him after he questioned the modus operandi of senior judges and high court administration. Kumar, one of the senior most judges in Patna HC remarked that corrupt judicial officials at the lower courts are getting protection in the state.
“If exposing corruption is a crime, I have committed a crime. What I did was right for me. I stand with what I stated as it is the truth,” Justice Kumar said in reference to the stay on his ruling in a corruption case against former IAS officer and former Janata Dal (United) leader K P Ramaiah. The stay was issued by an 11-judge bench of the high court headed by Chief Justice A P Shah.
Kumar added, “I am not changing my stand on corruption and will not compromise in any condition on the revelations of corruption within the judiciary.”
He also said, “I have no objection if the chief justice is happy to keep me away from judicial work as it is his duty to assign this work. But I have done my constitutional duty. I don’t have any ill will towards anyone.”
Also read: Patna High Court Judge Debarred from Hearings After His Comments on Corruption
The Patna high court on Thursday issued a notice which read, “Hon’ble Mr Justice Rakesh Kumar will await in chambers for work assignments until ordered otherwise.” The notice further said all matters pending before Justice Rakesh Kumar, sitting singly including tried up/part heard or otherwise, stand withdrawn with immediate effect.
This is the first such instance when a senior judge of Patna High Court targeted judges, high court administration, and talked about corrupt judicial officials at the lower courts in Bihar. "Corruption in this High Court is (an) open secret," Justice Rakesh Kumar had stated in his 20-page order delivered on Wednesday that has been withdrawn now.
Justice Kumar had questioned how Ramaiah was granted bail by a lower court when the High Court as well as Supreme Court had rejected his request for protection from arrest because of the gravity of the allegations.
Justice Kumar said that 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 High Court had taken a lenient view every time the case of any judge from the lower judiciary had come up. "Despite my opposition, a judge facing serious charges was let off with minor punishment instead of exemplary punishment," Justice Kumar had said in his order.
The single-member bench of Justice Kumar suo motu revived Ramaiah’s anticipatory bail petition and ordered Patna district and sessions judge to conduct an inquiry regarding under what circumstances a regular bail was granted to him.
"After my elevation as judge, I started to notice that senior judges were trying to gain favours from the Chief Justice. Initially, I thought why were the senior judges acting in such manner, but after some time, I could gather that such actions were being taken to get their favourites or to get people from their own caste elevated as a judge or do some favour to corrupt judicial officers," he had said in his order.
He also presented an illustration of four judicial officers who had between 11 and 21 petitions of various accusations, but, the judge said, they were all let off with mild punishment and remained in judiciary although they should have been dismissed in the best interest of the system.
"An inference can be drawn that those officers were having protection from the High Court. If after noticing all those facts, I only become a spectator, certainly, I can never forgive me," he said.
Justice Kumar also criticised HC judges for wasting public money by choosing to stay in guest houses for months under the pretext of renovating the government bungalows already allotted to them.
Justice Kumar ordered that a copy of the Wednesday order be served to the Chief Justice of India, Prime Minister’s Office and Union Ministry of Law and Justice.
Ramaiah is accused of embezzling over Rs. 5 crore from the Bihar Mahadalit Vikas Mission, a state government scheme for deprived and marginalised dalits. Ramaiah, who had unsuccessfully contested 2014 Lok Sabha polls as a JD-U candidate after taking voluntary retirement, was considered close to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.