Manmohan Singh's office backed “corrupt“ judge for UPA's sake!

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's office allegedly intervened to extend the term of office of a ''corrupt'' judge of the Madras High Court against the decision of three Supreme Court judges and the collegium, ostensibly as part of the PM's ''coalition dharma,'' revelations by former Supreme Court judge and current chairman of the Press Council of India Markandey Katju and subsequent developments showed.

Manmohan Singh's office allegedly intervened to allow an additional judge of the Madras High Court to get an extension despite the fact that the judge was under scanner for corruption and top judges of the Supreme Court had made it clear that they were against it.

The PMO's office is reported to have sent a note to the collegium of Supreme Court judges seeking confirmation of the Madras High Court judge and when the collegium refused to budge, the PMO is reported to have passed the buck to the law ministry.

The then law minister H R Bharadwaj had written to the collegium stressing that government is backing the judge.

Katju said the UPA has been under pressure from its ''Tamil Nadu partner'' (ostensibly DMK) to press for an extension of the term of an additional judge of the Madras High Court who had been found corrupt by the Intelligence Bureau.

The UPA government, however, prevented him from being axed because the DMK had threatened to quit the coalition if he was removed. DMK, according to Katju, was soft on the judge because he had granted bail to one of its top leaders (Karunanidhi).

Bharadwaj had earlier insisted that no "undue favours" were given to the judge and that proper procedure was followed.

But he also said, "So far as political threats to a coalition government is concerned there were always pressure (from allies) on appointment of judges which I never yielded."

Manmohan Singh said he has nothing to say as former law minister H R Bhardwaj has already clarified the issue.

R C Lahoti who was the Chief Justice at that time cleared the extension of the judge but didn't confirm him. However he attributed his decision to the "sensitivity of the government on the issue".

The latest revelations have marred the ''clean and honest'' image of Manmohan Singh, whom many people regarded as single-handedly trying to keep probity in public life aloft, despite the 2G, Coalgate and CWG scams.