[dropcap]G[/dropcap]overnment has today evaded in Lok Sabha the answer to a question regarding action taken by the government to facilitate the removal of Justice Narayan Shukla of Allahabad High Court as recommended by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra in February 2018.
Member of Parliament (MP) from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor, asked answers of the following questions from the Minister of Law and Justice:
(a) whether the Government has received a letter from the Chief Justice of India, on the need to remove Justice Narayan Shukla of Allahabad High Court, based on the findings of the in-house committee which indicted him of gross misconduct and if so, the details thereof;
(b) whether the Government has taken any steps to facilitate the removal of the said judge; and
(c) if so, the details thereof and if not, the reasons thereof?
In response, P P Chaudhary, Minister of State for Law and Justice & Corporate Affairs, replied that “a communication” has been received from the Chief Justice of India. Also a representation has been received from Shri Justice S N Shukla of Allahabad High Court. The Minster, however, skirted the reply to the question (b) which specially sought to know steps taken by the government to facilitate removal of Justice Shukla. It, therefore, appears that government has not any initiative to remove Justice Shukla. It has been sitting over the letter for the CJI for last six months.
Government informs Lok Sabha that it has received a letter from CJI seeking removal of Justice Narayan Shukla. Justice Shukla has also made a representation. However, Minister hasn't replied as to what action has been taken in the matter. pic.twitter.com/JSzVED8CmR
— The Leaflet (@TheLeaflet_in) August 1, 2018
Justice Shukla was under the scanner for allegedly granting permission to a private medical college to admit students despite a ban by the Medical Council of India being in place, as well as the Supreme Court forbidding such admissions from de-licensed private medical colleges.
Acting on the report submitted by the in-house inquiry panel, the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, in terms of Clause 7(ii) of the in-house Supreme Court Resolution of 1997, wrote on February 02, 2018 to the President of India, with a copy marked to the Prime Minister, seeking Justice Shukla’s removal from office. Before approaching the President, the CJI even advised the concerned judge to resign, but he strangely refused to do so.
CJI then advised the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court not to assign any judicial work to the concerned judge. Since then the judge, though still in office, has been divested of any judicial work.
Earlier in response to an RTI application filed on May 25, 2018, President Secretariat has informed RTI applicant Paras Nath Singh, that the letter from Justice Narayan Shukla was received at the President’s office on April 3, 2018, and that the same was put up to the President, Ram Nath Kovind on April 20, 2018. The President, the RTI reply indicated, decided to forward the letter from Justice Shukla to the Union Law Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, for appropriate attention to the representation made by the former.
The President Secretariat has, however, refused to disclose the contents of the letter of Justice Shukla after the latter informed the Secretariat to not disclose the same to the RTI applicant. Accordingly, the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) decided to withhold the copy of letter stating that information requested by the RTI applicant related to personal information and therefore, it couldn’t be provided under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005.
However, it is learnt that in his letter, Justice Shukla has questioned proceedings of in-house inquiry committee headed by Chief Justice of Madras High Court, Justice Indira Banerjee. He was indicted by an “in-house committee” comprising Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee, Sikkim High Court Chief Justice S K Agnihotri and Madhya Pradesh High Court’s Justice P K Jaiswal. They found him “guilty of misconduct”.