New Delhi: Chief Justice of Patna High Court has withdrawn judicial work from the senior-most judge in the HC after the latter delivered an order on how the judiciary in Bihar had plunged deep into corruption.
"Corruption in this High Court is (an) open secret," Justice Rakesh Kumar had held in his 20-page order delivered on Wednesday. Hours later, the chief justice withdrew all judicial work from him and asked him to wait in his chamber for allotment of work.
The judge implored upon the Chief Justice of India and the Supreme Court Collegium to take cognisance of the corrupt practices plaguing the judicial system at all levels in Bihar.
"After my elevation as judge, I started to notice that senior judges were buttering Chief Justice. Initially, I thought why such action was shown by the senior judges, but after some time, I could gather that such actions were being taken to get their favourite or caste man elevated as a judge or do some favour to corrupt judicial officers," recorded the judge on Wednesday.
Justice Kumar presented an illustration of four judicial officers who had allegations petitions ranging from 11 to 21 but, the judge said, they were all let off with mild punishments 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 questioned his brethren in the High Court.
"It is also open fact that wards of judges are practising in Patna High Court. Ward of one of [the] judges, even during short period of his profession, has taken classes in Bihar Judicial Academy and got honorarium," his order stated.
"It is known to everyone that one senior judge from the Allahabad High Court during Fodder Scam period had got his wife nominated as Rajya Sabha Member. This was not the end. Again, there was a judge from Allahabad High Court, who granted bail to an accused whose record of bail petition was lying in the Chamber of Hon’ble Mr Justice Akhilesh Chandra (as he then was), who was hearing his bail petition. So, corruption in this High Court is open secret," the judge maintained.
Justice Kumar also criticised HC judges for wasting public money by choosing to stay in guest houses for months on the pretext of renovating the government bungalows already allotted to them.
Based on a sting operation conducted by a TV channel, he also ordered a CBI investigation into corruption in the premises of the Patna Civil Court.
Justice Kumar's order was prompted by a news item describing how a former IAS officer was released on regular bail in a corruption case by a duty judge since the vigilance court judge was on a day's leave.
He directed the Patna District Judge to carry out an inquiry into "whether on the date of granting bail, the regular vigilance court was on leave due to genuine cause or went on leave in calculated way”.
Hours after Justice Kumar delivered this order, the chief justice passed an administrative order, directing all matters stand withdrawn from his court. Chief justice AP Sahi also sought an explanation how this matter was listed before Justice Kumar.
On Thursday, another administrative order was issued, stating Justice Rakesh Kumar "will await in Chambers for work assignment until ordered otherwise”.
Jaurice Kumar is the most senior judge of the High Court. He was appointed in 2009 and is slated to retire in December 2020. He was a standing counsel for the CBI and has also acted as special public prosecutors in the Fodder Scam cases.