Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday targeted the BJP over the statement of a Karnataka high court judge hearing a matter related to a bribery case that he was being threatened with transfer and accused the saffron party of bulldozing ”institution after institution”.
He also shared a video of the part of court proceedings during which the judge had said he was threatened with the transfer after his remark against the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) that it had become a “collection centre”. The judge also said he was unfazed and added “I will bell the cat, even at the cost of my judgeship”.
“A HC judge has been threatened for exposing BJP’s corrupt government in Karnataka. Institution after institution is being bulldozed by the BJP. Each of us must stand with those fearlessly doing their duty (sic),” Gandhi said using the hashtag “#DaroMat”
The Congress has been attacking the BJP government in Karnataka on the issue of corruption. On Monday, Rahul Gandhi had demanded the sacking of Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai to ensure a fair investigation in the police recruitment scam.
In the less than two-minute-long video of court proceedings held on Monday, Justice HP Sandesh also said, “Your ADGP is so powerful and some person spoke with one of our High Court judge that came and sat with me and he says giving an example of transfer of one of another judge to another district.
“I will not hesitate to mention the name of the judge also. He came and sat by the side of me and said there is a threat to this court.”
“I am glad 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. This should not happen. You people keep on encouraging such people, the state government as well as… We have to protect the institution…Why should I hesitate,” the judge is heard saying.
Justice Sandesh had made observations against the ACB last week and its functioning while hearing a bail plea of P S Mahesh, a deputy Tahsildar in the office of the Bengaluru City Deputy Commissioner.
Two staff members of the office were arrested for receiving a bribe of Rs.5 lakh in exchange for favourable order in a land dispute.
The court had taken objection as to how senior officers were being protected and only junior staff were being prosecuted in the case.
In a related development on Monday, Manjunath J, an IAS officer and former Bengaluru City Deputy Commissioner, was arrested in the same case by ACB.
Justice Sandesh had said the ACB had become a “collection centre” and the ADGP of the ACB a tainted officer. The court had, on June 29, ordered the ACB to produce details of all cases since 2016 in which the ACB had filed ‘B’ (closure) reports.
When the case came up for hearing again on Monday, Justice Sandesh said, “I am ready for it, for the good of people. Your ACB ADGP seems to be a powerful person. Somebody has told this to my colleague. I have been informed about it by a judge. The threat of transfer will be recorded in the order.”
The judge further said he wasn’t afraid of the threats. “I don’t fear anyone. I am ready to bell the cat. I have not accumulated property after becoming a judge. I don’t care if I lose the position. I am the son of a farmer. I am ready to till the land. I don’t belong to any political party. I don’t adhere to any political ideology,” he said.
The court had earlier directed for submission of the service records of the ACB ADGP. “The service records of ACB ADGP have not been produced before the court. You have reached a stage of issuing threats to the judge. The whole state is mired in corruption. If Vitamin M is there, you will protect anyone,” the judge said.