December 1: A former judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court has approached the Supreme Court against a high court order calling for an investigation into his private telephonic conversation regarding charges of misconduct against a sitting Supreme Court judge.

A double-bench of Justices M. Satyanarayana Murthy and Lalitha Kanneganti had on 13 August ordered an inquiry, under the supervision of former top court Justice R.V. Raveendran, after it noted that the phone conversation disclosed a “conspiracy” against the Andhra Pradesh High Court Chief Justice and the senior Supreme Court judge, The Print reported.

The petitioner before the top court, Justice V. Eswaraiah, has termed the high court order illegal since it was issued without hearing him.

Filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, the petitioner stated the impugned order was based on an application given to the high court by a suspended district munsif magistrate, the other party in the telephonic conversation.

The magistrate had annexed the transcript of the telephonic conversation with an application that was filed in an unrelated public interest litigation pertaining to the implementation of Covid-19 guidelines, Justice Eswaraiah said.

The retired judge held that he was not even issued notice in the matter.

In his petition, Justice Eswaraiah clarified that in his conversation with the district official, he had merely mentioned his knowledge of the allegations of misconduct against a Supreme Court judge and asked the magistrate if he had any more information.

The judge contended that the subject of his conversation is already a matter of an inquiry by a cabinet subcommittee and an FIR had also been registered.

“It was legitimate for the petitioner to seek any further information about the misconduct of the judge from anyone who might be privy to such information,” the petition stated.

To term the conversation to be some sort of a criminal conspiracy to destabilise the judiciary is totally unwarranted, the former judge claimed.

He further said the transcript given to the high court by the suspended munsif magistrate is “inaccurate” and “misleading” with respect to various aspects of conversation.

Justice Easwariah said the high court had erroneously held that his seeking more information, regarding a fact already in public domain and under police scrutiny, amounts to a conspiracy to malign the judges concerned or was a plot against the judiciary.

The audio clip, he stated, was leaked to a news channel to tarnish his image and defame him with false propaganda, with a calculated motive of exposing him to hatred.

Justice Easwariah has urged the top court to stay the high court order, which, he insisted, is illegal, unwarranted and caused harassment.

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