Justice KL Manjunath passes away: What you need to know about controversial ex-Karnataka HC judge

During his retirement in 2015, Justice Manjunath claimed that he had disposed of more than 68,000 cases in his 14-odd years as judge

FP Staff January 23, 2022 17:07:27 IST
Justice KL Manjunath passes away: What you need to know about controversial ex-Karnataka HC judge

File image of KL Manjunath. News18 Kannada

Retired High Court judge Justice KL Manjunath died in the early hours of Sunday at his residence following a massive cardiac arrest, family sources said. He was 68-years-old.

Here's what you need to know about Justice Manjunath and the controversies surrounding him:

Justice Manjunath was born on 21 April, 1953. He had enrolled as an advocate in September 1974 and practised in the High Court of Karnataka. He was appointed as an additional judge of the Karnataka High Court in December 2000 and became a permanent judge in October 2001.

A few years before he he retired, Justice Manjunath was accused of amassing wealth illegally.

According to a report by News Minute, on 8 February, 2004, Justice Manjunath acquired a plot allegedly in violation of the law, in Vyalikaval House Building Cooperative Society (HBCS) near Bangalore International Airport. He bought the property in the name of his daughter KM Chaitra, who was 20 at the time.

Following petitions filed in the high court related to allotment of housing society plots, Justice Manjunath himself presided over the case. Instead of recusing himself, he passed orders in favour of the housing society in two cases.

Justice  Manjunath’s promotion as chief justice of Punjab and Haryana in 2014 led to a tussle between the Collegium and the Centre.

Justice Manjunath, who was facing allegations linked to the land deal, mentioned above, was backed by the Collegium to take over as the chief justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, despite facing opposition from Central Government.

But later, then CJI RM Lodha clarified that the collegium, which he headed, had not recommended his promotion and his elevation was still under consideration.

The Aam Aadmi Party in 2014 had initiated a signature campaign demanding Justice Manjunath's impeachment. The charges against him included possession of wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income; presiding over a petition in favour of a housing society in which his daughter owned a plot; and failing to declare his assets in violation of the Supreme Court’s Full Court Resolution of 1997.

Speaking during his farewell in 2015, Justice Manjunath claimed that a Supreme Court Judge had written to the Chief Justice of India portraying him as “incapable of deciding either the question of law or constitutional issues”.

According to a Times of India report, Manjunath said, “I reliably learnt that a report secured by the Chief Justice was in my favour. Still for reasons best known to the members of the collegium of judges of the Supreme Court, my file was not reconsidered. God only knows why my file was kept pending for more than 10 months.”

“For the past one year, Chief Justice DH Waghela has been telling me that several forces within the judiciary are working against me and they would not allow me to be come a Chief Justice even for a day, his prediction has come true..."

During his retirement speech, he also claimed that he had disposed of more than 68,000 cases in his 14-odd years as judge, according to a report in The Times of India report.

Karnataka CM condoles demise

Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, his ministerial colleagues and former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy have condoled Manjunath's demise.

"Justice Manjunath was a very good lawyer. His services as the president of Advocates Association, high court judge, chairman of the Karnataka River Waters and Border Disputes Authority, chairman of Andhra Pradesh Backward Classes Commission is commendable," said Bommai in his condolence message, according to ANI.

"I pray to the almighty to bestow eternal peace on the departed soul and give the strength to his family members and well wishers to bear this grief," he added.

Bommai visited Justice Manjunath's residence at Kamakshipalya and paid his last respects to him by laying wreath on his mortal remains.

He later tweeted in Kannada, saying "funeral tributes were paid to Manjunath's body, and family members were comforted."

With input from agencies

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