Several sitting judges of Karnataka high court have been alloted sites by the Karnataka State Judicial Employees House Building Co-operative Society in its judicial layout in Kanakapura, which is in violation of the high court’s interpretation of the society’s bye-law.
The judges are Justices CR Kumaraswamy, Vasudevan Jaganathan, HN Nagamohan Das, Ajit J Gunjal, NK Patil, N Kumar, AB Hinchigeri, Anand Byrareddy, S Abdul Nazeer and Mohan M Shantanagoudar. And they were all allotted sites in a span of three months between July and September 2006. Justice Manjula Chelur, too, is on this list, but has since moved to Kerala high court as Chief Justice.
These judges of high court of Karnataka have, in violation of the Karnataka Co-operative Society Act, 1959, and Clauses-10 (B) and 53 of the society’s bye-laws, got sites allotted in their favour at the Kanakapura Judicial Layout while serving as judges at the High Court.
The Karnataka high court’s interpretation of Clause-7 of the Society’s bye-laws, which deals with the eligibility criteria for membership, in the case of Subramani vs. Union of India in 1995, states: “A reading of Clause-7 of the bye-laws, in our view, by no stretch of imagination can include the judges of high court or Supreme Court (sitting, transferred, retired).”
As per the documents in DNA’s possession, sale deeds have been drawn in favour of these high court judges who have got sites allotted in their favour in the judicial layout in Kanakapura measuring 4,000 sq ft each for `9.6 lakh each. This is despite the deeds mentioning that the market price of each site is `28 lakh. The discounted price was considered by virtue of them being “members” of the society.
Four of these judges – AB Hinchigeri, Anand Byrareddy, S Abdul Nazeer and Mohan M Shantanagoudar signed the sale deeds on August 19, 2006.
Accessing the sale deeds and the asset declaration made by some of these judges on the website of the high court, it was revealed that in one particular case, a judge’s wife has also been able to get an allotment of a judicial site, albeit in a different layout.
Justice Shantanagoudar was allotted site number 205 in the Kanakapura Judicial layout while his wife, Sunita Shantanagoudar was allotted site number 1902 in the Judicial Layout at Yelahanka measuring 2,100 sq ft through a sale deed dated October 11, 2002, for `3 lakh. This has been declared by Justice Shantanagoudar in his asset declaration made public on the high court website.