Retired judge of Karnataka High Court, Justice KL Manjunath passed away on Sunday due to a massive cardiac arrest at the age of 68. He died in his residence in Kamakshipalya and is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Justice KL Manjunath was born on April 21, 1953. He enrolled as an advocate on September 13, 1974. After practicing in the Karnataka High Court, he was appointed as an Additional Judge on December 11, 2000, and permanent judge on October 27, 2001.
Justice Manjunath served as the chairman of Karnataka River Water and Border Disputes Authority (KRWBDA) and Andhra Pradesh Backward Classes Commission.
His tenure as a judge was full of controversies. Justice Manjunath was accused of amassing wealth illegally.
As per the reports, he acquired a plot in Vyalikaval House Building Cooperative Society (HBCS) near Bangalore International Airport on 8 February 2004. He had allegedly bought that plot in the name of his daughter KM Chaitra. She was 20 years old at that time.
He presided over the case where a number of petitions were filed pertaining to the allotment of housing society plots. He received backlash for the orders that he gave in favour of the housing society in two cases.
In 2014, his promotion as the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court led to disagreement between then Centre government and Supreme Court collegium.
The Supreme Court collegium was backing Justice Manjunath to become the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court. But, the government strongly opposed his appointment. Later, then Chief Justice of India RM Lodha had clarified that the collegium had not recommended his name and his name is still under consideration.
In September 2014, three MPs of the Aam Aadmi Party — Bhagwant Mann, Sadhu Singh, and Harinder Singh Khalsa — launched a signature campaign seeking impeachment proceedings against Justice Manjunath over the allegations of abusing his position to acquire several movable and immovable properties worth crores of rupees, disproportionate to his known source of income.
On his retirement in 2015, Justice Manjunath raised questions over his appointment as the Chief Justice and alleged that a Supreme Court judge had written a letter to CJI portraying him incapable of deciding either the question of law or constitutional issues.
“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 become a Chief Justice even for a day, his prediction has come true.”
He also claimed that he had disposed of over 68,000 cases in his 14 years tenure as a judge.