An application was filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhaya before the Attorney General K.K Venugopal, seeking consent to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. This development comes in the aftermath of the historical move by Andhra Pradesh CM Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, as he wrote a letter to the Hon’ble. Chief Justice of India raising allegations against a senior sitting Judge of the Apex Court. The letter comprised of preliminary investigation reports of subcommittee and Anti-Corruption Bureau, the findings of which have revealed that the daughters of Hon’ble. Shri Justice N.V. Ramana, a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court and some of his close associates and relatives were beneficiaries of various questionable land transactions within the area which was eventually notified as the location for the new capital of Andhra Pradesh as was proposed by the former Chief Minister Shri Chandrababu Naidu. The letter was accompanied by a dossier which contained details of the nexus between Sri N.V Ramana and Mr Damallapati Srinivas who served as the former Additional Advocate General of A.P. The dossier claims that Justice N.V Ramana has been influencing the sittings of the High Court including the roster of a few High Court Judges in the cases relating to the Telugu Desam Party.
Thereafter, Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s move met with severe criticisms from the legal fraternity that was concerned with the independence of the judiciary. However, the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association of India, senior advocate Dushyant Dave, in this matter, has stated as hereunder -
“The letter of the Chief Minister is addressed to the Hon’ble. CJI and seeks an inquiry into the allegations against a sitting Supreme Court Judge. We have no idea about the truthfulness or otherwise of those allegations. The truth will emerge once the inquiry, if any is done. At this stage, we would be pre-empting the inquiry.”
Though this was an unprecedented move by the Chief Minister of a State to raise allegations against a Supreme Court judge, such allegations have in fact surfaced earlier in the past. Former Supreme Court judge, Justice Jasti Chelameswar has, ‘not for the first time’ pointed out the discrepancies in the functioning of the collegium system and has even raised questions of ‘unwarranted intimacy’ between Justice N.V. Ramana and Mr. Chandrababu Naidu.
Such allegations also raise serious questions regarding the workings of the prevalent collegium system for the State judiciary and warrants for reforms which focuses on the measures required to ensure the highest levels of integrity from not just our politicians and bureaucrats, but also from our judges. It is now more than ever, that the office of a judicial ombudsman needs to be momentously pushed forward for.