I consider myself a part of Karnataka: Chief Justice Oka imposes Rs 1 lakh costs on petitioner for allegations against HC judges from the State

The petitioner had alleged that most of the judges who hail from the Karnataka Bar, one way or the other, show their allegiance to a former Chief Justice of India.
I consider myself a part of Karnataka: Chief Justice Oka imposes Rs 1 lakh costs on petitioner for allegations against HC judges from the State
Chief Justice Abhay Oka, Karnataka High Court

The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday imposed costs of Rs 1 lakh on a petitioner for making scandalous allegations against judges of the High Court who were elevated from the Karnataka Bar.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum imposed costs while dismissing a petition filed by one V Gururaj praying that another pending petition of his should be heard by the Bench of the Chief Justice or any other judge hailing from a different state.

The petitioner's concern was that the roster judge would not give justice to him in another petition currently pending before Justice Krishna S Dixit. In fact, the petitioner went on to allege that there is excessive interference by a former Chief Justice of India.

It was further alleged that most of the judges who hail from the Karnataka Bar, one way or the other, show their allegiance to the said former Chief Justice of India.

It was the petitioner's contention that all judges of the High Court who were earlier practicing in courts in Karnataka can be influenced by the former CJI. Therefore, he prayed that Chief Justice Oka either take up pending matter himself or assign the same to a judge who has not practiced in the courts of Karnataka.

However, the Bench took a dim view of the contentions made. The order states,

"The allegation is that most of the Judges show reveration to the undisputed intellect of the retired CJI.... We must remind the petitioner that Hon'ble Judges who are holding constitutional posts are human beings and they are bound to have respect for those who are really honourable and those who possess very high intellect. However, the Judges have taken oath under the Constitution, merely because they respect somebody does not mean that the Judges will be guided by the said person when they discharge their judicial and their constitutional duties."

It was further observed that this was a serious attempt to scandalize the Court and the same has to be condemned in strongest possible words.

When the petition was listed before the Court on Monday, instead of initiating suo motu contempt proceedings against the petitioner, the Court invited attention of Advocate Kumara KG to the scandalous allegations made in the petition.

On Tuesday, Kumara submitted a memo for retirement, in which he informed the petitioner that he would not continue in the matter. To this, the Court responded by saying that it is the discretion of the Court to permit an advocate to retire or not.

“We will not allow the said advocate to retire by exercising discretion vested in this Court," said the Bench.

The Court further stated that the ex-facie the statements made by petitioner constitute criminal contempt under all three clauses of sub section (c) of Section 2 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971. However, the Court stopped short of issuing criminal contempt proceedings against the petitioner.

“When we applied our mind of initiating proceedings more than one factors persuaded us not to initiate the proceedings. The first and foremost reason is that we are guided by what is observed by Apex court in the case of S Mulgaonkar," the Court said in its order.

We believe that if at all magnanimity has to be shown it has to be by persons who are holding constitutional post.
Karnataka High Court

At this juncture, the Bench clarified that its silence should not be misunderstood as weakness by the petitioner or any other person.

It added,

“The petitioner should not be under impression as far as this court is concerned the matter is over. We have noted the statement made before the single judge. We expect the petitioner to immediately go before the single judge and withdraw the said submissions. If the said submission is not withdrawn the option of initiating suo-motu proceeding always remains open.”

As the matter drew to a close, the Court orally observed,

“You are saying that because the Chief Justice is an outsider, he should take up your matter. But I have said repeatedly that I consider myself a part of Karnataka, so where will you go. If the Chief Justice also says that he belongs to Karnataka, where will you go? Where will you find a judge? if you say a judge from Karnataka should not hear your matter, all of us belong to Karnataka.”

I consider myself a part of Karnataka, so where will you go. If the Chief Justice also says that he belongs to Karnataka, where will you go?
Chief Justice Abhay S Oka

Accordingly, the Court though disposed of the matter, and set a date on February 19 for reporting compliance as regards payment of costs.

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