Whistle-blower Patna HC judge divested of work

Whistle-blower Patna HC judge divested of work

The Patna High Court

The Chief Justice of Patna High Court, Justice AP Shahi on Thursday divested Justice Rakesh Kumar of all the assignments with immediate effect. Besides, the 11-judge bench of the High Court, headed by the Chief Justice, also suspended Justice Kumar’s order to recommend CBI probe into a case involving a retired IAS officer.

“All the matters pertaining to the judge…. stand withdrawn with immediate effect,” said the order issued by the Chief Justice of the Patna HC.

The move comes a day after Justice Kumar on Wednesday remarked that “corruption here (in the court) is an open secret.” The second senior-most judge in the High Court, Justice Kumar was hearing a case where a retired IAS officer KP Ramaiah, who was charged with embezzlement of fund to the tune of Rs 5 crore, got bail from a vacation judge of the Vigilance Court.

“It’s very unusual that ‘corrupt officers’ like Ramaiah secures bail from a vacation judge in place of regular judge of the Vigilance Court, who was away for a day,” said Justice Kumar, who had earlier rejected Ramaiah’s bail plea in the High Court.

Justice Kumar then recommended a CBI inquiry into the corruption allegations against the lower judiciary and cited a sting operation carried out by a TV news channel to buttress his point. A copy of the probe order was sent to the PMO, Chief Justice of Supreme Court and the Union Law Minister.

He also made stringent remarks about the functioning of the High Court when he observed that “the Patna High Court was taking a lenient view in respect of corruption allegations against the lower judiciary.”

On Thursday, an 11-judge bench of the HC suspended Justice Kumar’s order (for CBI probe) saying the single bench had no jurisdiction to pass such an order in a case which had been closed.

Ramaiah was charged with fund embezzlement when he was chairman of the Mahadalit Vikas Mission. Perceived to be close to the ruling party in Bihar, the former bureaucrat, after taking VRS, had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election as JD (U) candidate against Congress’ nominee from Sasaram, Meira Kumar.  

Justice Kumar, on the other hand, was public prosecutor pleading on behalf of the CBI during fodder scam, before he was elevated as a judge in 2009.