Recent heating up of the war between Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and a sitting Supreme Court judge has allowed wild speculations to run amok. A purpose, which the letter, whatever its worth, does archive. It did sell and found its takers, in Delhi and otherwise. With pomp and show has the subject pervaded the media, only to the detriment of the institution. Many, such as Justice A. K. Ganguli and Prashant Bushan, support the Chief Minister, do believe that there needs to be an enquiry but the question is of what? Panchu’s piece answers a question by whom, but simply ignores the former.
Basically there are two allegations, that justice N V Ramana influences the outcome of cases; and second, that his kin are involved in purchasing properties having some secret knowledge of where Amravati was to come up.
Let us now, try to unravel the first allegation. The State is suffering defeat due to Justice N V Ramana. The allegation on a particular judge influencing is completely misguided for the reason that judicial institution has sufficient checks and balances in form of appeals etc., to correct any mistakes in Orders. The gravamen of Chief Minister’s rant seems to be Justice Somyajulu, who had recently stayed investigation of Special Investigation Team over improprieties conducted by the earlier Government. The State aggrieved by the Order has chosen to appeal to the Supreme Court and is pending. Clear consequence of such allegation is that the Chief Minister wants to influence the Supreme Court, wherein if the judges does find the order to be reasonable, then they have been influenced by a particular judge.
However, absurd be the allegation, we cannot lose track of the fact that Justice N V Ramana had vociferously argued against the elevation of the said High Court judge, which Chief Minister himself points out. The problem with such allegation is that it imputes motive to the judge, before passing such orders, such motives being completely subjective can never be proved in law and only ends up maligning the institution. As every person who reads any order by the judge, would assume and impute a motive, thereby damaging the institution which hangs only by public trust.
The second allegation that the judge was benefitted by purchase of land by the kin of the judge based on some secret information. On a ex-facie reading of the complaint, it clear that allegations made therein are completely bogus, due to the fact that purchase of the property is alleged to be in the July of 2015 and it is said that it is acknowledge even in the FIR that the location was in public knowledge since June 2014. Apart from the above there is another aspect on the independence of judiciary.
The letter breaches clear independence of judiciary for the fact that the Chief Minister is not a saint, rather a corrupt governor having more than 38 cases on corruption and money laundering allegations. Parallelly it is to be noted that Justice N V Ramana, was hearing a petition to decriminalize politics, wherein slew of orders were passed to fast track pending cases. Due to such orders, all the cases which the Chief Minister had ensured to be kept in cold storage was opened and was ordered to be heard on a day to day basis. This leads to reasonable conclusion that Chief Minister pulled a public stunt to politicize the issue by mudslinging on the judge. This aspect cannot be brushed aside by simply acknowledging that corruption should be routed out, we need to insulate those, who can take steps to dismantle corruption in the society.
In any case, without going into the merits also, we can reasonably conclude that Chief Minister had malafide intention to go public for vilifying the judges, should be given adequate weightage while forming a opinion about the veracity of allegations made. Now definitely ball is in CJI’s Court to take concrete action against the Chief Minister to initiate contempt against the same for not maintaining the constitutionalism and dignity of office required by such constitutional post holders.
Now the question as to whether there is a requirement for a independent leadership committee to examine the allegations, do not arise in this case, Sriram may be right to seek creation of an alternative forum, but the present case does not portray such need as the allegations are ex-facie tainted and absurd. The most important purpose of such letter was to create a chaos and anarchy. It is required that those who speak are to be careful to study the fact and the background, lest people should not make a Kichadi out of it!
B.A. LL.M. (University of Cambridge)