Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Former Cabinet Minister of Orissa Sri Bhagavat Prasad Mohanty has published instances of how corruption is rewarded in Judiciary. It deserves serious attention, specifically as, Sri Mohanty is a freedom fighter and a renowned lawyer.
He has been contributing a biographical column captioned MO HAJILA DINARA KATHA to an Oriya daily titled Orissa Express. In its edition of October 25, he has given these accounts.
Without mentioning the name of a corrupt Judge, he has discussed a Judge whose upward journey to the position of the Chief Justice of Orissa High Court had begun from a lower class magistrate in Kendrapada, despite location of his corrupt practices. The man is so corrupt that even after retiring as Chief Justice of Orissa High Court, he had managed to grab the Judge-cum-Chairman post of the State Administrative Tribunal till finally fleeing away from the position due to lawyers’ strike.
Mohanty writes, he was shocked to see that his client – a notorious trader of illicit liquor, who would be punished despite his pleading, he was sure – got acquittal in all the seven irrefutable cases the State Excise Police had lodged against him. The Court was held by a Judicial Magistrate appointed for adjudication of narcotic cases in Kendrapada. Before agreeing to act his advocate, Mohanty had made it clear to the accused, that, the excise cases were so strong that, it was impossible to fetch for him any acquittal. He had responded with the words that he was interested only in being represented by a lawyer of repute. That’s all; because, then he shall not bother about the outcome.
And when the cases were answered with acquittal, it was Mohanty, despite being his lawyer, was really shocked. How could he managed to get acquitted, he asked the offender. “By bribing the Magistrate”, was the quick reply.
Mohanty got thrashed by his conscience. He grasped that, the acquittal was pre-decided. Lest the public suspect the Magistrate, a reputed lawyer was to be appointed by the offender.
Thus, at the call of his conscience, Mohanty preferred a confidential letter to the District Judge describing the case and its bribe-induced outcome in details. After 7 days of receiving this letter, the District Judge deputed the Additional District Judge to get first-hand details. Mohanty not only conformed his confidential communication, but also called the acquitted person, who clearly told of the bribe given to the Magistrate to purchase the judgment, even narrating how much money he had paid for which case. The Magistrate was transferred on report of the ADJ.
Mohanty has said that the same Magistrate was promoted to the post of District Judge and was eventually promoted to the bench of the High Court and retired as Chief Justice of Orissa.
Matter did not end there. After retirement from the Chief Justice post, the same person got reappointed as the Chairman of the State Administrative Tribunal, which is the same as the High Court for government servants.
According to Mohanty, in this position also he was selling verdicts against payola. He ultimately fled away from the Tribunal after members of the Bar raised a spectacular and aggressive strike against rampant corruption in SAT.