Pained at Jagan’s letter, former HC judge writes letter to CJI

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After BJP leader and Supreme Court lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay former judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, Justice Noushad Ali has written a letter to Chief Justice of India S A Bobde terming the allegations made by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy against sitting Supreme Court judge N V Ramana as an interference with the administration of justice.

Noushad Ali, in his letter to Justice Bobde, pointed out that Jagan’s allegations were solely intended at influencing the minds of the trial court judges before whom cases against the Chief Minister were pending. The former Andhra Pradesh HC judge stated that he was deeply pained at the way the judiciary is being “denigrated by the political and executive establishment” in Andhra Pradesh.

In the letter, Noushad Ali stated, “Their projection is that their leader is a unique person having a mandate of 151 MLAs out of 175 strength, hence the courts should respect him as superior. “In his letter, the Chief Minister made charges against orders passed by the Andhra Pradesh High Court in recent months, all of which are pending before the Supreme Court.

The judge takes particular exception to this statement in the Chief Minister’s letter:

“Each one of the three branches of governance are designed as checks against the other for balancing the great powers endowed by the constitution.”

The letter clearly suggests that CM can put the judiciary or Parliament in check. I am afraid whether such is the position in the Constitution. In my opinion the chief minister is clearly under an illusion. In my humble opinion, petitioning for the administrative interference of the Hon’ble Chief Justice, when the court is seized of the matter on its judicial jurisdiction amounts to direct interference with the administration of justice.””

“The High Court of Andhra Pradesh has been under constant attack almost on a daily basis. Shockingly, the High Court is under attack from Assembly Speaker, minister, legislators of the YSRCP and advisor to the government Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy,” Noushad Ali wrote.

“The Chief Minister made a scathing attack on Supreme Court Justice N V Ramana. He alleged that Justice Ramana has been influencing the matters of the High Court including roasters of a few judges and motives are being allotted to certain judges, alleging nexus between them. The Chief Minister also alleged that the two daughters of Justice N V Ramana, his close associates and relatives were benefited through various land transactions which are questionable,” he added.

Noushad Ali in his letter to Justice S A Bobde wrote, “First I thought that the attacks by the leaders were to gain favours with the Chief Minister, but then realized that they were orchestrated under the direction of the Chief Minister.”

Further, Noushad Ali noted that apart from the Assembly Speaker, ministers and some legislators of the YSRCP made comments on Sakshi TV channel and Sakshi newspaper, both owned by Jagan Mohan Reddy. Noushad Ali also quoted a Sakshi newspaper report (dated 11.10.2020) wherein several judges’ names were dragged into an “unwarranted controversy” under the headline “High Court orders aiming to benefit TDP.” He cited another report carried in the Sakshi newspaper (dated 20.9.2020) by Varadapalli Murali along with a cartoon.

The cartoon shows a bird with its beak tied. The article and the cartoon refer to the High Court ‘gag’ order on media suggesting that the media has been cruelly tied. The writer has alleged some nexus between former chief minister Chandrababau Naidu and a judge of the Supreme Court without mentioning his name.

In the same newspaper (dated 3.10.2020), government advisor Sajjala Ramakrishna Reddy’s comments were published. The government advisor commented that the institution under the Constitution should be self-reliant and comments made by one institution against the other would cripple that institution.

He said a series of reports were published in Sakshi newspaper and in social media in an attempt to cause irreparable damage to the reputation of the judiciary, particularly the state judiciary and several High Court judges. “Making such statements not only scandalize the courts in the eyes of the public but also amounts to direct interference in the administration of justice besides causing irreparable damage to the reputation of individual judges,” Noushad Ali stated in his letter. “In the paper (dated 20.9.2020) comments made by YSRCP MPs were published. Some of the comments were made both inside the House and outside the Parliament,” Noushad Ali noted.

Jagan in his letter to Chief Justice of India S A Bobde had alleged impropriety by Justice N V Ramana. In the letter, dated October 6, Jagan had accused Justice N V Ramana of “influencing the sittings of the (AP) High Court including the roster of a few honourable judges” and cited “instances of how matters important to Telugu Desam Party (opposition in AP) have been allocated to a few honourable judges…”. The letter complete with annexures, has also accused the state judiciary and five of its judges of “bias…towards Telugu Desam Party and its interests, in the nature of orders passed staying investigation, staying enquiry and the rest…”. Justice Ramana is likely to be the next CJI in April 2021, after Justice Bobde demits office.

Jagan’s letter was released in public domain. The contents of the letter were repeatedly read in Sakshi TV channel by none other than Ajeya Kallam, advisor to the Chief Minister. The letter is circulated in social media, and I too received a copy of it on my Whatsapp. It is not difficult to comprehend why the letter was made public even when it has been sent to the Hon’ble Chief Justice.”

“The Supreme Court has withstood such attacks in the past, more particularly with its pronouncement in the Kesavanadabharati case. The learned judges are bold to withstand such attacks’ ‘, the former Andhra Pradeshh HC judge wrote in his letter to the CJI.

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