From a judge heading a panel probing the killing of a BJP legislator by Maoists in Chhattisgarh to India’s first anti-corruption ombudsman appointed by the Narendra Modi government, the Overseas Key Information DataBase (OKIDB) developed by Zhenhua Data, and investigated by The Indian Express, is monitoring 30 judges including the current Chief Justice of India, another judge in Supreme Court, three serving judges of the higher judiciary, and four retired judges of the Supreme Court who are currently heading key posts in various capacities.
The list includes Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, Justice A M Khanwilkar of the Supreme Court, Justice Sandeep Mehta of the Rajasthan High Court, and Justice Sunita Agarwal of the Allahabad High Court.
It also includes judges who have retired from the SC and are currently in key positions: Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose, Chairperson, Lokpal; Justice Shiva Kirti Singh, Chairperson, Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT); Justice Vikramajit Sen, Chairperson, Governing Board, Bombay Stock Exchange and Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad, Chairperson, Press Council of India.
Also on the list are former Chairman of Intellectual Property Appellate Board Justice K Basha (IPAB) and Justice S Usha, former Vice-Chairman, IPAB.
The list scrutinised by The Indian Express includes two judges who head separate panels to probe Left-wing related incidents: Justice Satish Agnihotri, former CJ of Sikkim HC, heads a judicial commission set up by Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Bhagel in August 2019 to investigate the Naxal attack in Dantewada in April 2019 which killed BJP MLA Bhima Mandavi and four security personnel.
And Justice Amitava Lala, former Acting CJ of Allahabad HC, heads a one-man commission appointed by West Bengal CM Mamta Banerjee in March 2012 to probe the 1982 massacre of 16 monks and one sanyasin of the Ananda Marg. He has so far summoned several senior Left leaders.
Former SC judges Justices PK Balasubramanyan and Arijit Pasayat, who have also been Chairpersons of Authority for Advance Ruling (AAR), which gives binding rulings in advance tax matters pertaining to a foreign investment venture in India are on the list of those monitored. A scrutiny of the data further shows two other Chief Justices A P Shah (Delhi) and Mohit Shah (Bombay) – indirectly connected with the same matter arising out of the AAR – were also monitored.
In 2012, Justice Balasubramanyan, heading the AAR, had ruled in favour of minimum alternative tax (MAT) levied on Castleton Investment, a Mauritius-based company. In 2014, the I-T department had sent notices to several Foreign Portfolio Investors seeking MAT; following the uproar among foreign investors, then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had constituted a panel headed by Justice AP Shah, who recommended MAT will not be applicable on FIIs/FPIs not having a place of business/permanent establishment in India. At the same time, in the Bombay High Court, a bench headed by CJ Mohit Shah was hearing a case on a similar MAT matter involving Luxembourg investor Aberdeen Asset Management.
The list includes those who have been part of human rights panels: former SC judges Cyriac Joseph, Shivraj Virupanna Patil, Sujata Manohar, all of whom served at the NHRC; Bilal Nazki, former CJ of Orissa HC and former Chairperson of J&K Human Rights Commission; Sujit Roy, former CJ of Orissa HC and former Chairperson of Assam Human Rights Commission; and Prakash Tatia, former CJ Jharkhand and former Chairperson of Armed Forces Tribunal.
The list also includes: Former CJI Justice RM Lodha, who headed a committee constituted by the SC to suggest reforms within the BCCI; former SC judge Justice Ganpat Singh Singhvi, who chaired the now-defunct Competition Appellate Tribunal, and had set aside an order of the Competition Commission of India which imposed a Rs 52.24 crore penalty on BCCI for abusing its dominant position in organising the Indian Premier League; and Justice Abhay Mohan Sapre, former judge of SC, who was part of the bench that appointed SC judge DK Jain as the new BCCI Ombudsman.