Four years after a Supreme Court collegium recommended it first and reiterated it thrice later, the Union government on Monday notified the appointment of a Karnataka subordinate judiciary officer as an additional judge of the state high court.
A Union Law Ministry notification said judicial officer P K Bhat has been appointed as an additional judge of the Karnataka High Court for two years.
"In exercise of power under Article 224 of the Constitution, the President is pleased to appoint Bhat to be an additional judge of the Karnataka High Court, for a period of two years with effect from the date he assumes charge of his office," the notification read.
Additional judges are usually appointed for two years before being elevated as permanent judges.
The SC collegium had first recommended Bhat's name for appointment as a high court judge in 2016.
It had subsequently reiterated its recommendation thrice, the last time being in October 2019.
The apex court collegium had to reiterate its recommendation after the government returned the first one for reconsideration, referring to a woman's complaint of alleged sexual harassment against the judicial officer.
MS Shashikala, a woman judicial officer, had accused P Krishna Bhat of repeatedly harassing her. According to her, in 2014, Krishna Bhat repeatedly asked her to come to his home on different work-related pretexts leading to rumours among colleagues and advocates.
She had alleged that when she stopped going to his house, the senior judicial officer began delaying her work.
Later, the government had told the collegium that the matter was ‚Äúserious and sensitive which demanded a fair and proper inquiry.‚ÄĚ
An inquiry committee of the Karnataka High Court looked into the allegations then. In October 2019, the collegium reiterated its recommendation for the third time when the government acceded to it.
Justice J Chelameswar had written to SC judges alleging the government was stalling the appointment of PK Bhat even after a discreet probe by the Karnataka HC had absolved him and that this indicated a bonhomie between the judiciary and the executive.