Dear Shanti Bhushanji,
I hope this finds you well.
You would recollect that before Justice Dattu became CJI I had sent you ( through Prashant ) a dossier containing documentary proof of the large scale corruption by him. This dossier of about 100 pages included several phoptocopies of sale deeds by which Dattu and his family members illegally acquired a large number of properties in Bangalore. I also sent you by email photographs of a palatial house built by Dattu in Bangalore on 1200 sq.m. land..
After reading this dossier you telephoned me and said that the allegations therein are serious. I then told you that in that case COJA ( Committee on Judicial Accountability ), of which you and Prashant are founding members, should investigate into the allegations in the dossier. However, for some reason you and Prashant did not do so.
I now request you and Prashant to call a meeting of COJA and investigate into the charges, since you yourself told me that the charges were serious.
You and Prashant are known to be crusaders against corruption, and you will be rendering a great service to the country if you do so. Prima facie it seems that Dattu has amassed a fortune, and he must explain ( 1 ) how he came across such wealth, ( 2 ) whether it is true that the Karnataka Land Reforms Act was flouted in these deals ( 3 ) whether the rules of the society in which some plots were purchased were flouted ( 4 ) why were several plots purchased in the name of Dattu’s wife Gayathri showed her as daughter of Guravayoor, instead of wife of Justice Dattu, etc.
I had sent a copy of the dossier to Mr. Ravi Shankar Prasad, the then Union Law Minister, and requested him to get an enquiry made, but evidently he did nothing.
I expect you now to start the investigation immediately. Already too much time has expired. The whole country looks upto you to get this enquiry made. Like Arjuna, you are standing on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, and are expected to do your duty
Mr. Shanti Bhushan’s response to Markandey Katju’s open letter (over email):
” Yes indeed the allegations were serious. However, the documents did not fully make out the case.It is the policy of COJA ( Committee on Judicial Accountability ) to start some proceeding only when it has evidence which makes out a cast iron case. COJA does not havethe power of investigation. Only if the government is willing the matter can proceed further. It is only in cases of complete evidence of misconduct an attempt to get MPs sign an impeachment motion has any chance of success “
But it is a cast iron case, for the following reasons :
(1) Several of the plots of land purchased in the name of Dattu’s wife Gayathri ( whose photocopies are in the dossier ) are technically in the rural areas, where the Karnatak Land Reforms Act applies, which prohibits a person from purchasing land if his/her family income is over Rs.2 lacs per year. Dattu’s income alone at the relevant tiime, being a High Court Judge, was about Rs. 15 lacs per year.
(2) Dattu was allotted a plot under a scheme which permitted allotment only to a Karnataka High Court employee. A High Court Judge is a constitutional authority, not an employee
(3) Dattu got another plot in Bangalore under a scheme which said that a person who himself or whose family member already had a plot in Bangalore could not be allotted a plot under the scheme. Dattu and his family have several plots in Bangalore.
(4) All Supreme Court Judges have to disclose their assets. Dattu has not disclosed his palatial house ( whose photographs I sent you by email ) in his list of assets. This can be easily verified from the Supreme Court website supremecourtofindia.nic.in
(5) In several of the sale deeds showing purchase of land ( whose photocopies are in the dossier ) in the name of Gayathri ( Dattu’s wife ), she is described as daughter of Guravayoor, not wife of Dattu. These plots were acquired long after their marriage. Why was her husband’s name concealed ? Is it not obvious that it was done to hide these transactions ?
You say in your email that the govt. should be willing to investigate. Did you or COJA approach the govt. with a request to investigate ?
I request you to reconsider. The whole nation looks upto you as a crusader against corruption. Will you now, like Bheeshma Pitamah, close your eyes while Draupadi’s ‘ cheer haran ‘ is being done ?
Mr. Shanti Bhushan’s next response after Markandey Katju’s response:
” Mrs. Dattu was working as a bank manager which fact has important consequences. Many other Judges had also been allotted plots in the same scheme. So for the scheme, Judges were being regarded as employees. So it would hardly be misconduct for accepting an allotment in these circumstances. Non disclosure of assets may not be a misconduct. Concealment of husband’s name in sale deeds while being a suspicious circumstance may not be treated as proof of misconduct on the part of the husband “
Mr Markandey Katju’s reply to the above mail:
You have raised 4 points in your latest email:
1. Mrs. Dattu was working as a bank Manager.
My response : If that is so then the family income becomes even more. So clearly section 79A of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, which prohibits a person whose family income is above Rs. 2 lacs from buying land, has been grossly violated.
Section 79A states :
” Section 79-A. Acquisition of land by certain persons prohibited. – (1) On and from the commencement of the the Karnataka Land Reforms (Amendment) Act, 1995, no person who or a family or a joint family which has an assured annual income of not less than 1[rupees two lakhs] from sources other than agricultural lands shall be entitled to acquire any land whether as land owner, landlord, tenant or mortgagee with possession or otherwise or partly in one capacity and partly in another ”
2. Other Karnatak High Court Judges were also allotted plots in the scheme ( for providing plots to Karnataka High Court employees )
My response :This implies that if others did a wrong, Dattu can also do a wrong. So since many others are committing a theft or robbery, Dattu can also do so.
3. Non disclosure of assets may not be misconduct
My response : Dattu has not disclosed in his list of assets a palatial house, standing on 1200 sq.m. land, which may be worth Rs. 50 crore. I had sent you photographs of the house by email. Where did he get the money for buying/building this house, as well as acquiring the other assets belonging to him and his family ?
4. Concealment of husband’s name while being a suspicious circumstance, may not amount to misconduct
My response : Such concealment, coupled with the other illegalities and irregularities, clearly points to Dattu’s guilt. Why should the father’s name, and not the husband’s, be mentioned in the numerous sale deeds ?
In a previous email you mentioned that unless the government is willing to investigate you and/or COJA cannot do anything. Surely you can approach the government and request it to investigate into the allegations.
It is said that Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion. So must the CJI
Sir, you are the Bheeshma Pitamah of the Indian judiciary, who has fought against corruption all your life. I beseech you once again : do not stand with eyes closed while the ‘cheer haran’ of the Indian judiciary is taking place. Instead, do your duty, as Lord Krishna said to Arjuna
Mr. Shanti Bhushan’s latest letter to Markandey Katju:
You have already approached the govt. If they are not willing to investigate even on the complaint of a former Sup Ct judge there is no earthly chance of their starting an investigation at my instance.
The history of govts in this country has been to keep on the right side of the judiciary.The violation of Sec 79 by the wife of a judge does not constitute misconduct on the part of a judge.Even if the house may be worth many crores today the relevant question would be the value of the land on the date of its acquisition and its construction.We do not even know whether the husband or the wife took any bank loans for the construction.
In a nutshell we neither know all relevant facts nor are in a position to get to know them.The public has no means to compel the authorities to launch investigation against judges.Till laws change the public would remain helpless.Only crusader judges like you could have made a difference but only while in office.