Bangalore, July 29 (): Supreme Court collegium backed Karnataka high court judge K L Manjunath for a elevation despite the central government’s Law ministry opposition had illegally procured a prime plot from a housing society in 2004 and also was the judge who presided over cases involving the society.
A Supreme Court judge had told the collegium about Justice Manjunath’s land dealing but it was overlooked and finally the Law ministry rejected it but the CJI is adamant that he be made Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The Supreme Court and the Law ministry have kept the contents of that letter a secret. The letter had attached documents that show on February 8, 2004, Justice Manjunath got the plot flouting rules , and out of turn, in the name of K M Chaitra, who was 20 years old at the time.
Chaitra is the daughter of Justice Manjunath and she was exempted from filing an affidavit that says she did not own any residential property in the city, a move to keep speculators out of the heavily subsidized housing societies.
Justice Manjunath’s response was that he intended to return the plot. Apart from that she was not even a member of the society. The usual route to grab plots is to take the associate member ploy as developer admits non-members in this category.
As the scam got busted, the High Court quashed associate memberships in housing societies. This verdict came in 2001 but in 2004 Justice Manjunath took the same route to buy a plot of 5460 sqft which cost more than Rs 2.18 crore for a meagre Rs 6.82 lakh. The mode of payment was not mentioned in sale deed. The society had cases before Justice Manjunath and all three cases were given favourable verdict.
Usually, a judge stays away from any case in which he has any conflict of interest. Members who paid the full amount have not been allotted any plot and have been waiting for 20 years. Legal remedy has eluded them as the society has given plots to VIPs who are backing it. By returning the plot after being exposed is not justice. The Supreme Court’s defiant stance seems to be misplaced but the silver lining is that a neutral panel will come in to force to decide on appointment and promotion of judges.