New Delhi, November 8: Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal has said it is “open” to the Supreme Court to initiate suo motu contempt proceedings against Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy for his October 6 letter to the Chief Justice of India containing allegations against sitting Supreme Court judge Justice N.V. Ramana.
“The very crux of the alleged contempt lies in the contents of the letter written by Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy to the Chief Justice of India, and thus it is open to the Supreme Court to take up the matter of contempt suo motu as provided by the Contempt of Courts Act, and the rules made thereunder,” he wrote to Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay on November 7, The Hindu reported.
Venugopal was replying to Upadhyay’s request to re-consider his earlier refusal on November 2 to permit contempt action against Mr. Reddy and his Prinicipal Adviser Ajeya Kallam for the letter and the act of releasing it at a press conference on October 10.
Venugopal stood firm by his decision to refuse consent. He reiterated that the CJI was already “seized of the matter”. The Attorney-General wrote that contempt was a matter between the court and the contemner. No person could, as a right, insist upon the initiation of contempt proceedings.
However, Venugopal said his refusal did not stop Upadhyay from exercising his “right” to take the matter directly to the judges for suo motu action.
“You may exercise this right by way of information placed on the administrative side or by bringing it to the attention of the court during the hearing of the case where you are already a petitioner-in-person,” he wrote.
Upadhyay is the petitioner-in-person in a case seeking quick disposal of criminal cases against legislators across the country. He has alleged that Justice Ramana’s order on September 16 to try these cases expeditiously may have prompted Mr. Reddy to write the letter on October 6 and release it to the media a few days later.
Venugopal, too, in his earlier reply on November 2, had concurred that the timing of the letter was “suspect.” In this context, the Attorney-General referred to Upadhyay’s statement that Reddy had 31 criminal cases against him. In this second communication to Upadhyay on Saturday, Venugopal however said the letter could not be described as a “private missive”.
“Nowhere is the letter marked confidential,” the Attorney-General wrote.
Venugopal said he had watched the video of the October 10 press conference. Nothing “extra” was added during the event than what was said in the letter addressed to the Chief Justice.