Justice Katju asks for PIL into CJI Dattu’s assets

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Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju on Wednesday once again called upon people to file a Public Interest Litigation against the current Chief Justice of India HL Dattu for, what the retired judge claimed, a “prima facie corruption” case.

While writing on his blog page, titled Satyam Bruyat, Justice Katju said he possessed a 100-page “dossier” on “documentary proof of a large amount of properties amassed” by Chief Justice Dattu, but those are, he claimed, in the name of his wife Gayathri.

Chief Justice of India HL Dattu
Chief Justice of India HL Dattu

The former Presss Council of India chairman claimed he had “photocopies of the sale deeds” of the “large number of plots in or near Bangalore”. He said Justice Dattu “amassed” these properties “during his judicial career”.

Justice Katju had put up this info on his facebook page some months ago. On Wednesday, he again called upon people to file a PIL against Dattu, based on the “dossier” that he has.

According to him, he had given copies of the “dossier” to some people, without anything accruing. He said he was ready to give copies of the “dossier” to anyone who cared to file a PIL.

Screenshot of retired Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju's October 14, 2015, blog where he appeals to people to file a PIL against HL Dattu.
Screenshot of retired Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju’s October 14, 2015, blog where he appeals to people to file a PIL against HL Dattu.

“I have a copy of the dossier on Dattu’s prima facie corruption with me, and I put up a fb post some time back giving my email id (mark_katju@yahoo.co.in) asking someone to take the dossier from me and file a PIL asking for an investigation, but no one did anything,” Justice Katju wrote on his blog on Wednesday.

“A few lawyers telephoned me, but later backed out, perhaps thinking that this may affect their law practice. One lawyer even took the dossier from me, but later returned it saying he was unwell. So no one dares to investigate Dattu, neither lawyers nor media nor anyone else. The govt. of course has the dossier, since I gave a copy to the then Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, but will do nothing,” Justice Katju said.

He wrote that some people had excused themselves, saying Dattu was going to retire soon, on 2 December this year.

Sometime ago, Justice Katju had written on his blog that he had received photos of the “palatial house Dattu had built on 1200 sq.m. land in Bangalore” by email from someone.

He had said, “All these properties Dattu had got in the name of his wife Gayathri, but she was cunningly mentioned as daughter of Guravayoor, instead of wife of Dattu.”

Justice Katju also wrote, “Some time back I had telephoned a senior supreme court lawyer, who is also the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, and told him that I had a dossier containing documentary evidence (photocopies of numerous sale deeds, etc) which was prima facie proof of the large scale corruption by the present Chief Justice of India, Dattu who seems to have amassed a fortune after becoming a Judge.”

He claimed that he had told the senior lawyer that “the matter should surely be investigated”.

“I also told him that before Dattu had become CJI in October 2014, I had got several copies of the dossier made and given them to Mr. Ravi Shanker Prasad, the then Union Law Minister, some senior lawyers of the Supreme Court (e.g. Mr.Shanti Bhushan, who sent his son Prashant to my residence to collect the dossier), media people, etc. but no one was even prepared to investigate the matter, although I told them that the documents may not be accepted on their face value, but at least should be investigated,” he had disclosed on his blog.

Justice Katju claimed the lawyer Shanti Bhushan had telephoned him the next day and told him that the allegations in the dossier were “indeed serious”.

“I said that then surely they should be investigated by the Committee on Judicial Accountabilty (COJA), of which he was a senior member, but nothing was done by anyone. Surely it is time now to investigate the matter.” he had written.

“The senior lawyer said that in fact Prashant Bhushan had showed him the dossier, and on reading it he was satisfied about its veracity, but since Dattu was retiring on 2nd December now there was no point in going into the matter…”

Elsewhere in his blog, Katju had written that “most of these plots were purchased in violation of the provisions of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, which state that a person having family income of over Rs. 2 lacs per year cannot buy land in the rural areas of Karnataka”.

“At the time of purchase these plots were all technically in the rural area, though in reality they had become part of Bangalore as the city (like all cities in India) had expanded. Justice Dattu’s income at the time of purchase was over Rs.15 lacs per year (the approximate salary of High Court Judges), and so his wife illegally purchased these plots,” Justice Katju wrote.

“Justice Dattu has built a palatial house in Bangalore, allegedly on 1200 sq.m. land. Possibly that house itself would be worth Rs 50 crore or more. Someone sent me photos of that house by email, and I will try to retrieve them and send them to you,” he wrote in his reply to an email sent to him by Economic Times and which can also be found on his blog.

Justice Katju ends his email reply, also posted on his blog, with a disclaimer.

“I may before concluding add that I have no personal grudge against Dattu, and my only motive in doing what I did was to have upright people on top posts in the judiciary. I only wanted an enquiry into the allegations in the dossier, and I did not say that the allegations were necessarily correct (though the documentary proof in the dossier does indicate serious illegalities),” he wrote. “But people, including journalists to whom I gave copies of the dossier, were not even willing to investigate. Is the media scared?”

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