Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s letter alleging impropriety by Justice N V Ramana, a sitting judge of the Supreme Court and next in line to be Chief Justice, has landed him in a legal soup.
After the Delhi High Court Bar Association took serious objection to Jagan’s letter lowering the dignity of Supreme Court Justice N V Ramana by casting aspersions, two Supreme Court lawyers filed a petition in the top court with an appeal to remove Jagan as Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
The two petitioners – G S Mani & Pradeep Kumar Yadav – contended in their plea that Jagan who is facing over 30 criminal cases has been abusing his power and post as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.
The Public Interest Litigation filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India (dated 14.10.2020. vide Diary No. 22452/2020) further contended that Jagan, who is facing serious criminal charges, including money laundering and quid pro quo cases, is lowering the image of the judiciary by making scandalous remarks against courts and judges.
The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh has written the letter casting aspersions on Supreme Court judge Justice N V Raman in order to malign, tarnish and damage of the senior most judge, the petitioners contended. “The petition is filed seeking action against 3rd respondent (Jagan Mohan Reddy) only to protect the independence and integrity of judiciary and its judges. It is painful that false, vague and political allegations were made against the senior most judge of the Supreme Court only to disturb the independence of judiciary,” the petitioners contended.
Further, the petitioners argued that for the first a Chief Minister of a state has made such false allegations against a senior most Supreme Court judge. A person who is holding the post of head of the state executive should not overtake judiciary by making false allegations against the sitting judges of the Supreme Court. The general public confidence in judiciary is important. If public lose their confidence and faith in the judiciary, the very purpose is defeated, the petitioners argued. The petitioners made “proper authorities representing the government and the state itself” as the other two respondents in the case.
The petitioners, citing a newspaper report, pointed out that 31 criminal cases are pending against Jagan Mohan Reddy as per his own affidavit. The petitioners noted that cases were pending with the CBI, Enforcement Directorate and different police stations in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The criminal charges include criminal conspiracy, cheating, dishonesty, criminal breach of trust, forgery, criminal misconduct, money laundering and various others. ” Thus we appeal for an appropriate action for his removal as CM of AP and also judicial enquiry constituting internal committee headed by sitting or retired judges of Supreme Court or any authority including CBI over the vague allegation made by Jagan against Justice Ramana,” the petition read.
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.
In the letter, Jagan had suggested Justice N V Ramana had favoured former chief minister and TDP president Chandrababu Naidu and the judge’s daughters had purchased land under questionable circumstances in Amaravati before the site was chosen for the new Andhra capital. Last month, the Andhra Pradesh High Court had restrained the media from reporting about allegations of corruption in land deals in Amaravati. Coming from a CM facing a large number of cases, the allegations have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Earlier in the day, the Delhi High Court Bar Association stated that casting aspersions on a Supreme Court sitting judge is “clearly a dishonest attempt at overawing the independence of judiciary and tantamount to contempt of the Honorable court. It is a blatant attempt to shake the confidence of the public at large in the judicial institution which has been performing its duty of due administration of justice assigned by the Constitution of India.”
In a statement, the Delhi High Court Bar Association strongly condemned Jagan for writing a letter casting aspersions on the Supreme Court judge. The Delhi High Court Bar Association stated that it unequivocally, categorically and in the strongest possible terms condemns the allegations cast upon Justice N V Ramana.