BENGALURU: Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee on Tuesday made the sensational disclosure that someone had offered him money in a land case.
He was hearing a revision petition filed by Umrah Developers against the Revenue Department and the Deputy Commissioner of Bengaluru Urban district. After telling the court a visitor had tried to buy a favourable verdict, he recused himself from the case.
His revelation shocked advocates in the court hall. Justice Ravi Malimath was part of the division bench headed by Mukherjee hearing cases in the post-afternoon session.
This is the second such revelation within a month in the Indian higher judiciary. On June 6, exactly a month ago, Justice K T Shankaran of the Kerala High Court had recused himself from a smuggling case, saying he had been offered money to deliver a favourable judgment.
In the Bengaluru court, when senior counsel Padmanabha V Mahale appeared to argue the land case, Mukherjee said, “Wait, wait”. He then directed his personal assistant to fetch a visiting card handed to him by a visitor to his official residence on Palace Road.
When the card was brought to the court, he flashed it to Mahale and said, “This person, who was speaking in Bengali, walked into my house yesterday. He sought a favour, offering a bribe for disposing the case listed as Serial No 34.” Stunned, Mahale informed the court the visitor had no connection with the case, and requested to see the visiting card. However, Mukherjee repeated the serial number, asked Mahale to take a photocopy of the card.
Mukherjee said, “My doors are always open. Anybody can come. But not this type. I don’t want to hear this case.”
Karnataka High Court Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee disclosed on Tuesday that he was offered money in a land case. Following this, he asked senior counsel Padmanabha V Mahale, who is arguing the land case, to make a photocopy of the visiting card that was handed to him by the person offering the bribe. Reuben Jacob, the advocate who has engaged Mahale, is yet to take a photocopy, as suggested by the judge.
The Revenue Department had auctioned 1.2 acres in 2008. Umrah Developers was the highest bidder, and paid the full amount of ` 2.1 crore.
The land had been acquired by the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) for formation of the Kempegowda Layout. As a result, the developers neither got the land nor the money back. The developers then approached the High Court. A single-judge bench ordered the BDA to provide alternative land to Umrah Developers.
The Revenue Department filed an appeal against the order. A division bench said the petitioner could not claim alternative land as a matter of right, and ordered the BDA to refund the money with interest. But the BDA did not comply with this order either.
Umrah Developers then filed a contempt petition. The Revenue Department returned the principal but not the mandated interest of 7.5 per cent a year. The developers filed a revision petition, seeking restoration of the single-judge order on the grant of alternative land.
“Since one of us is not inclined to take up this matter on personal grounds, let this matter go out of the list,” said an order hosted on the High Court website on Tuesday.