VERY IMPORTANT – Letter to the Chief Justice of Karnataka High court
Date 20th February 2012
The Hon’ble Mr. Justice Vikramjit Sen,
Chief Justice of Karnataka,
High Court of Karnataka,
BANGALORE – 560 001.
Most Respected Sir,
SUBJECT: JUDICIAL REFORMS
You must be aware; that ours is a well reputed all India Human Rights and Civil Liberties Organization existing since 35 years. Amongst our priorities ‘Judicial Reforms’ is one of the important issues.
Please permit me to bring to your notice a matter that concerns judicial propriety on which your intervention is most essential. The issue is with regard to the Hon’ble Mr. Justice B.V. Pinto, sitting Judge of the High Court and his accepting invitations for so-called felicitations from an unending number of private individuals and organizations in Mangalore City and the adjoining districts. At every one of these functions under the guise of honouring the Hon’ble Judge very lavish presentations are made and in every one of these cases. What cannot be overlooked is the fact that these persons, departments and institutions are all litigants in various Courts and there is absolutely no doubt about the fact that the so-called functions are motivated. The most objectionable part of the matter is that local politicians and officials including police officers share the dais with him.
The public confidence in the independence of the Judiciary gets shaken because an impression is created in the public mind that the balance in the litigation could get tilted because of these factors. There exists a well settled principle of Law and ethics which requires that sitting Judges should not accept any such Invitations while holding office. We recall with respect the occasion when the Hon’ble Chief Justice R.G. Sethi visited Mangalore on his official visit to the District and a group of citizens and organizations desired to hold a public function honouring and felicitating him and the Hon’ble Chief Justice declined to accept the Invitation which earned tremendous respect to him and to the Judiciary.
In the short time since his elevation, the Hon’ble Mr. Justice B.V. Pinto, has visited the area on at least THIRTY occasions and regularly continues to do so, on many occasions by taking time off from his judicial duties. With the arrears of litigation being what they are, we respectfully submit that the mandate of the Supreme Court that the sitting Judges should not attend functions under any circumstances if it encroaches on Court time must be observed.
I am quoting just one specific instance where a group of persons belonging to the Legal Cell of the Mangalore Diocese invited the Hon’ble Judge for a very lavish felicitation function. Every one of these functions also includes Dinners where alcohol is served freely. While there may be no legal prohibition to this, it does create the wrong impression and eyebrows are certainly raised. The other fall out is that these individuals and organizations openly start name dropping to the effect that the Hon’ble Judge is personally known to them which has a very damaging effect on the adverse parties in the pending litigations.
I shall quote one specific example namely that PUCL takes up very many human rights issues as also issues of social reform and this has not been liked by many of the persons in authority. My family has been residing for over a Hundred Years in a small structure of which the Bishop claims to be the Landlord. Purely in order to hit back at me, a completely false and vexatious litigation has been started in order to get my family evicted. This litigation is being handled by the Legal Cell of the Diocese. There are virtually hundreds of such litigations pending against the poorest of the poor persons who are sought to be evicted by the Bishop and the lands sold to Developers. The Ld. Judge was called and lavishly felicitated by these persons and wide publicity was given to the event. The immediate reaction from the Local Bar was that this was not fair and that it could adversely affect the pending litigations. With the utmost respect, we submit that this apprehension is real.
Please therefore, as a matter of propriety, very kindly request the Ld. Judge to desist from accepting these Invitations, Gifts, Dinners and more importantly from making very patronizing speeches at these functions because it will undermine the independence of the Judiciary.
With respectful regards,
For People’s Union for Civil Liberties