Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju, who stirred a controversy by levelling allegations against three ex-Chief Justices of India on the issue of an alleged corrupt judge, on Tuesday came under criticism from legal luminaries who said it was "unbecoming" of a former apex court judge.
Katju yesterday created a furore alleging that Justices R C Lahoti, Y K Sabharwal and K G Balakrishnan had made "improper compromises" and "succumbed" to political pressure to allow a Madras High Court judge under corruption cloud to continue in office at the instance of the UPA government owing to pressure from an ally, a "Tamil Nadu party", apparently DMK.
"It is very unbecoming of an ex-SC judge to raise this now. By questioning the former Chief Justices, you are bringing down the institution", said Sorabjee, a former Attorney General.
Sorabjee slammed Katju for making allegations after so many years and said that he acted in a very "rash manner". Katju is currently Chairperson of Press Council of India.
"If he (Katju) says he was performing his duty, it was not his duty as the Chairman of the Press Council, but if he says that as a citizen it was his duty then why did he not perform it earlier?
"He has acted in a very rash manner. A manner which is very unbecoming of a former SC judge to level allegations against former Chief Justices," he said.
"I am very upset and distressed," he added.
Sorabjee found it strange that Katju spoke out so late in the day, years after the man in question had died. "Strange that a judge who himself was a beneficiary of collegium system under CJI Y K Sabharwal should now bitterly complain against it," he added.
"He(Katju) said 'better late than never' but it should be earlier the better," Sorabjee said.
Katju, who was appointed as Chief Justice of Tamil Nadu High Court in November 2004, was appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court on April 10, 2006. He retired on September 19, 2011.
Reacting to the allegations, Justice Lahoti said he has done nothing wrong and that everything is there in the records.
Justice Balakrishnan rejected the allegation as "completely baseless and not factually correct".