A call for accountability


Two days after the CJI’s stinging rebuke, Kumar published his assets on a blog
Two days after the CJI’s stinging rebuke, Kumar published his assets on a blog

Justice DV Shylendra Kumar Karnataka High Court Declared Assets: Approximately Rs 46 lakh

ADAY AFTER Judge DV Shylendra Kumar of the Karnataka High Court publicly disagreed with the Chief Justice of India (CJI), the CJI called him a “publicity-crazy judge”. Friends and even acquaintances of Justice Kumar must have laughed. In his 33 years of engagement with the law, Justice Kumar’s interactions with reporters have never strayed beyond the functional. The CJI’s remark could not have been more inaccurate.

Two days after the CJI’s stinging rebuke, Justice Kumar replied with characteristic unpretentiousness by filing a statement of his assets with the High Court, specifying that it could be made public. After the Chief Justice of Karnataka prevented its publication on the Court’s website, Justice Kumar published it himself, on a website he created for the purpose. Those who know Justice Kumar are not surprised.

Enrolled in the bar in 1976, Justice Kumar has practised law before the Madras and Karnataka High Courts. He has a reputation as “a person of incredible integrity and forthrightness,” as a close friend describes him. After several years, Kumar was elevated to the post of an Additional Judge of the High Court in 2000 and made a permanent judge in 2002.

In 2008, Justice Kumar wrote a definitive judgement in a case pertaining to mining permits. He personally visited the Kumaraswamy forest range and in his ruling, lambasted the mines which were ravaging the environment and directed the state to suspend mining in forests. The judgement also suggested that the government consider nationalising the mining sector “so that private profit does not come in the way of protecting the environment”.

Eight months later, a division bench of the High Court overturned the order, calling it “untenable” and “illogical”. The High Court staff who work closely with Justice Kumar say that there was no reaction from him at all. “His silence at that time spoke volumes. All he ever tells us is to abide by our duty – nothing less or more will do. There is no time for stray conversations at all,” said a senior staffer. A rule that applies equally to himself – no time for stray conversations.



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