When Mayawati sent a recommendation to Justice Katju, sensational revelation

Amalendu Upadhyaya
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Appointing Scheduled Castes/Tribes as High Court Judges


Justice Markandey Katju

When I was in the collegium (the body consisting of the 3 seniormost Judges) of the Allahabad High Court in 2003, the then Chief Minister of U.P. Ms. Mayawati sent the then Advocate General of UP to me who said that the CM wanted a scheduled caste district judge to be elevated as a High Court Judge.

I checked up about that district judge, and learnt that he was totally corrupt. So I called the Advocate General, and told him to tell the Chief Minister that I was in favour of appointing more Scheduled Caste persons as High Court Judges, since the Scheduled Castes had been historically and socially oppressed for thousands of years, and needed upliftment. Even now most non-scheduled caste people look down on them as inferiors.

However, I added , the person to be appointed should be totally upright, as appointing a corrupt High Court Judge would not only defame the judiciary and harm the public, it would also defame the entire Scheduled Caste community, and give a handle to many non-scheduled caste persons to say that all scheduled caste persons are corrupt (which is untrue, as there are honest and corrupt persons in all castes and communities, and I know many scheduled caste persons who are totally honest and upright).

So I told the Advocate General to request the Chief Minister not to press for elevation of that corrupt District Judge, and suggest some other upright SC person instead, and to her credit I must say that she did not press for elevation of that particular district judge.

I told the Advocate General that if he could suggest to me a young scheduled caste lawyer, if not in the High Court, then even in a district court who had a high reputation of integrity I would get him recommended for appointment as a Judge in the High Court, and later, by dint of seniority, he could even become a Supreme Court judge.

However, before getting him recommended I would make my own enquiries to make doubly sure that the person was honest. He may not be an outstanding lawyer in the High Court or a District Court, and even a lawyer with average knowledge of law would do, but there must not be any compromise on integrity.

The Advocate General never reverted to me thereafter.

(Justice Katju is a retired judge of the Supreme Court of India. These are his personal views.)

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