Reports claimed on Wednesday that the Prime Minister’s Office had pushed for making permanent a Madras High Court judge, who has been referred to as corrupt by former Supreme Court judge and current Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju.
The then PMO under Manmohan Singh had put pressure on the Supreme Court collegium headed by the then chief justice RC Lahoti in June 2005, to make permanent Justice S Ashok Kumar.
The recommendation came after the SC collegium, in a unanimous decision, chose to end the services of Justice Kumar after he served as additional judge for two years at the Madras HC.
In a letter to the collegium on June 17, 2005, the PMO wrote about appointment of permanent judges in the Madras HC.
“The Prime Minister has directed that clarifications be sought by the Ministry of Law and Justice as to why the names of Justice S Ashok Kumar and Justice N R Kannadasan have not been recommended. The proposal be resubmitted (to the collegium) with the clarification,” the PMO wrote in the note.
The said judge was eventually given an extension under government pressure.
The then law minister HR Bhardwaj has, however, claimed that the extension to Justice Kumar was given by the collegium and that the government had no role in the decision.
Dr. Manmohan Singh, meanwhile, without referring to Katju’s allegations, only said Tuesday that former law minister Bhardwaj had explained everything and he had nothing to add.
The BJP, meanwhile, demanded that Manmohan Singh clarify on the matter.
“Former PM must come out and clarify whether he acted under pressure or not, this will enhance the image of judiciary,” senior BJP leader and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said this morning.
Katju had said in his blog on Sunday that an additional judge of the Madras High Court was given an extension during the UPA regime despite an adverse Intelligence Bureau report concerning him.
He had claimed that the extension was given under pressure from a Tamil Nadu ally of the UPA government.